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    Holiday Blues or Clinical Depression
    Sutter Center for Psychiatry

    The holidays are supposed to be full of joy and excitement. So, why do many of us experience pangs of sadness or anxiety during this season of merriment? Common answers include the following:

    • Our holiday spirit doesn't quite live up to our own expectations or match the exuberance of commercialized holiday images
    • The childlike excitement we felt when we were younger has dissipated
    • Stress over holiday gatherings, travels and finances can cause anxiety, exhaustion and frustration
    • We may feel wistful or lonely if the holidays remind us of past cherished events or loved ones we've lost

    As with other temporary types of mild depression, holiday blues should subside with time. It's important to remember that no one is in a constant state of happiness. Sadness and other draining emotions are common and part of the human experience.

    However, not all woes are short-lived. Clinical depression is a serious illness that needs to be addressed and treated in order to live a fulfilling, healthful life. Unlike seasonal sadness, clinical depression does not fade with time -- its effects are pervasive and prevent you from feeling pleasure in all areas of your life. If you suspect that you or someone you know is suffering from depression, seek help from a doctor or other resource you trust.

    The battle with depression can often be made easier with professional treatment. Some benefit greatly from medication. Others find their path to recovery in counseling. Many use a combination of therapies and work with their mental health professional to successfully maintain a healthy edge over clinical depression.

    Although some individuals are more vulnerable than others, people of all ages, races and circumstances are susceptible to depression. You can help to ward off holiday blues and depression by being part of a community (family, friends, church groups, organized clubs) and engaging in meaningful relationships. Maintaining a healthful lifestyle (eating right, sleeping enough, exercising) can also benefit your mental health.

    Talk to your primary care physician if you think you need help overcoming depression. To learn more about the resources we provide, contact the Sutter Center for Psychiatry at (916) 386-3077.

    This health tip is based on a presentation by Richard Bermudes, MD.