INDIANAPOLIS – ‘Tis the season to be jolly, but not for everyone.
The holiday season can actually exacerbate feelings of isolation and depression for some.
People without strong family bonds may feel especially lonely during the holidays.
Mirna Ballestas, a clinical psychologist and program director of Under the Rainbow at Sinai Behavioral Health, says reflecting on the year can heighten anxiety, and if you add in the pressure to be cheery, it can be a tough time for people suffering from depression or mood disorders.
“A lot of emotions come up, and naturally there will be some negative emotions as well as positive ones,” she points out. “Sometimes it’s joy and happiness and sometimes it’s a lot of nostalgia or sadness, and possibly anxiety of what’s coming or how to think of the future.”
Ballestas says instead of glossing over feelings of anxiety, make space for them and talk about their feelings with others.
Anyone who experiences lack of motivation or apathy for two or three weeks is advised to seek help.
Ballestas warns that many people try to distract themselves from negative feelings by overindulging in food, alcohol or drugs, by being promiscuous or by spending too much.
She adds that depressed people also tend to isolate themselves.
“Not wanting to be part of that event or preferring not to go to the family function, or not going to the work holiday, or sometimes even overworking – taking on shifts and taking on days for other people to be able to go with family, those are all behaviors that end up putting you at risk,” she explains.
In the Midwest, people who get the blues around the holiday season may actually be suffering from Seasonal Affective Disorder, or “SAD,” which is linked to depression felt during the colder winter months.
Ballestas says there are ways to treat that, and not just through medications.