The Holiday Blues

The holidays are a bit of a double-edged sword. Most people enjoy getting together with others, affirming of those we love and sharing the joy of celebrating. Reminded of the depths of God’s love for us, we can gather as a community at various special services to acknowledge the meaning and significance of our faith.  However, if relationships and faith are not in place, then the season can be one of isolation, depression and addictions.  

The red flags of the blues

depressed woman
One place where the blues shows up is in hospital emergency rooms.

The blues can come upon a person because of memories (that are often feelings of loss) grief or deeper anguish such as from abuse, neglect or past trauma. In some past posts we have discussed how we imprint these issues and how these memories cause us to remain in a brain state that may be more emotional (limbic) than one that uses good logic and reason (cognitive).

One place where the blues shows up is in hospital emergency rooms. Dr. Mark Silva, medical director of Gottlieb Memorial Hospital, was quoted in an article in USA today about the subject of depression and associated conditions. He referenced the five red flags that we should be aware of when people are experiencing desperation.  

Being antisocial. While Most people are busy going to social gatherings, shopping, attending events and connecting with friends, DeSilva states that we should look for those who shun social interaction. He urges us to keep an eye on those who consistently do not attend events that they said they would.

Being angry.“The person expresses sarcasm, unhappiness or criticism of others‘ joy in the season and is consistently pessimistic,” DeSilva said.

depressed african american middle aged man
Recognize these behaviors in a friend or acquaintance? Reach out to that person right away, particularly if they’ve been hit hard by the economic downturn.

Abusing drugs or alcohol. DeSilva explains that liquor and illegal drugs are often readily available throughout the holidays. People will overindulge in these items to numb the feelings of pain offer an escape from the present situations.

Missing work or other events. “Facing others who are happy and bright is often too difficult for those feeling the holiday blues.” DeSilva continues, stating that those who find the holidays difficult may be become no-shows, absent or arrive very late to work or other events or engagements.

Excessive sleepiness. “Depression often takes the guise of extreme fatigue or tiredness. The body shuts down to form an escape from the everyday world,” DeSilva cautioned.

DeSilva further states that “anyone who recognizes these behaviors in a friend or acquaintance should reach out to that person right away, particularly if they’ve been hit hard by the economic downturn. By recognizing when a person is in trouble, and speaking out, you may not only save them a trip to the emergency department, but also save a life.”

You can make a difference

Most of us see or are in contact with vulnerable people during the holiday season.  If we notice that someone has dropped away from family or friends or is exhibiting these red flag behaviors referenced by Dr. Silva, it may be the caring thing to do to  check in with them. Perhaps invite them into your home, or just have a conversation that will allow them a chance to process their feelings or perspectives during this season. Connecting with someone who cares couldmake a huge difference. 

Who of us doesn’t need more kind connections in our very busy and hectic lives?

Gerry Vassar, President/CEO, Lakeside Educational Network


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