Experts warn of an increase in thoughts of depression during the holiday season
It may be looking a lot like Christmas at your home, but not everyone is decking the halls with boughs of holly.
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- It may be looking a lot like Christmas at your home, but not everyone is decking the halls with boughs of holly.
In fact, the holiday season can be the source of great pain for a lot of people.
Mary Brown, 91, is one of those people. She has lived long enough to celebrate a lot of holiday seasons, but this year there will probably be no Christmas tree.
Over the years, the family has suffered some painful losses, and the holiday season can be a painful reminder.
"It is important to keep her busy and active so that she does not fall into a state of depression with the passing of my father and the passing of my brother," said Arlisa Farley-Brown, Brown’s daughter.
"If there's a year you don't feel like decorating, that's OK," said Kelly Gillooly, who is with Our Lady of Peace.
Kelly Gillooly, Director of Behavioral Health Outreach at Our Lady of Peace said it's not uncommon for the loss of loved ones to cause holiday depression, even if the loved one died years ago.
"If there's a year you don't feel like decorating, that's OK," Gillooly said. "Because that's a time during the holidays where they would have spent time with them and a family get together. That brings up a lot memories about good times that they shared together."
Gillooly said holiday depression or Christmas Blues can affect people of all ages. She also said there are things you can do to feel better.
"I think the important thing is don't put too much pressure on yourself," she said. "Got to do your own pace ... There's no time frame for grief. It can take some people a couple of years, it could take them 10 to 15 years."
Experts say those suffering from depression may experience feelings of sadness and emptiness that won’t go away, extreme irritability, restlessness, thoughts of suicide and death, insomnia or sleeping too much, difficulty concentrating, loss of interest in favorite activities, weight gain or weight loss.
“Depression may occur at any time of the year, but during the holiday season, it’s often amplified,” said Martha Mather, Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of Our Lady of Peace. “Many factors can increase a person’s level of stress and anxiety during the holidays, including financial pressures, recent loss of a loved one or other major life changes, social isolation, excessive commitments and unrealistic expectations.”
Gillooly also said depression this time of year may be caused by another factor: the loss of sunshine. Seasonal affective disorder, or (SAD), is a disorder that is caused by the reduced number of daylight hours during the winter months.
Brown may never get over the pain of losing a son, but the nickname she uses for her daughter shows Brown hasn’t lost her mind.
"I call her the warden," Brown said.
Experts said signs of depression should not be taken lightly. You can contact Our Lady of Peace for an assessment by calling the Assessment and Referral Center at 502-451-3333. If you find yourself having suicidal thoughts, immediately dial 911, go to a hospital emergency room or call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK.
Copyright 2017 WDRB Media. All Rights Reserved.