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Many people struggle to cope with depression and anxiety, especially during the holidays. The holiday season is a time of year when you get together with family and friends, laugh, have fun, and make memories that will last a lifetime. Unfortunately, this time of the year can bring a lot of pain and suffering for those who struggle with depression and anxiety. The isolation enforced by the COVID-19 pandemic makes those feelings even more unbearable and intense, as we are unable to gather and celebrate with our loved ones.
What is Depression?
Depression is more than sadness – it is debilitating and makes you feel alone, tired, and unable to participate in normal daily activities. Depression is a heaviness that makes you feel like you’re suffocating, and you cannot breathe. It disrupts eating habits, sleep patterns, can increase symptoms of anxiety and suicidal thoughts.
Depression impacts about 7% of the U.S. population age 18 and older in a given year, according to the National Institute of Mental Health. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, approximately 2 million children in the United States have been diagnosed with depression. The symptoms of depression are challenging to cope with and often interfere with a person’s ability to enjoy life to the fullest.
Treatment For Depression
There are different modalities of treatment for depression. Treatments include medications, psychotherapy, light therapy, and exercise. Medicines for treating depression involve using an antidepressant, anti-anxiety, or antipsychotic drug to manage symptoms. Psychotherapy treatment involves a mental health counselor to discuss symptoms of depression and ways to cope with them.
Light therapy helps some patients who struggle with depression to improve their mood and sometimes is used to treat Seasonal Affective Disorder, which is a form of depression related to the reduced sunlight during the colder winter months. Exercise is a natural, healthy way to increase the body’s production of endorphins, which significantly reduces symptoms of depression.
What is Anxiety?
Anxiety is more than feeling anxious or scared. Anxiety is the body’s response to stress and a feeling of despair and fear beyond a person’s control. It interferes with daily activities and can impair a person’s ability to work, go to school, and form new relationships. Anxiety can produce unrealistic feelings of hopelessness, obscurity, and insecurity.
There are several different forms of anxiety disorders:
- Generalized Anxiety Disorder
- Panic Disorder
- Social Anxiety Disorder
- Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
- Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
- Separation Anxiety Disorder
- Seasonal Anxiety Disorder
Risk Factors For Anxiety Disorders
Anxiety can be linked to genetics, brain chemistry, and environmental factors. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, each type of anxiety disorder’s risk factors can vary. Still, there are some general risk factors for all kinds of anxiety disorders, which include:
- Temperamental traits of shyness or behavioral inhibition in childhood
- Exposure to stressful and negative life or environmental events in early childhood or adulthood
- A history of anxiety or other mental illnesses in biological relatives
- Some physical health conditions, such as thyroid problems or heart arrhythmias, or caffeine or other substances/medications, can produce or aggravate anxiety symptoms; a physical health examination is helpful in the evaluation of a possible anxiety disorder
Many people experience a wide range of symptoms, such as difficulty concentrating, rapid heart rate, and heavy breathing. Some anxiety disorders can induce an anxiety or panic attack, marked by an overwhelming fear or dread.
How to Cope With Anxiety Disorders
Unrealistic expectations, financial pressure, and excessive commitments can all contribute to holiday stress and anxiety. Poorly managed holiday stress can cause headaches, overeating, and insomnia. A lack of adequate social support, recent trauma, or co-occurring illness can make it hard to manage. Still, there are ways to cope with anxiety orders, especially during the holidays.
Anxiety disorders are usually treated with psychotherapy, medication, or both. Set realistic goals and expectations, reach out to family and friends for help, and find inexpensive ways to enjoy yourself. Share family responsibilities, limit commitments, and take time for self-care. Proper nutrition, daily exercise, and meditation are all healthy ways to cope with anxiety disorders.
Treatment is Available
Symptoms of depression and anxiety can worsen during the holidays. Isolation due to COVID-19 can also amplify depression and anxiety. Treatment is available, and at Achieve Concierge, we take a mind, body, spirit approach to treatment and help our patients discover the best ways to manage their depression and anxiety symptoms.
Depression and anxiety can increase during the holidays and can make you feel afraid and alone. Isolation due to COVID-19 can also worsen depression and anxiety symptoms as you experience feelings of boredom and isolation. This holiday season, ensure that you are taking care of yourself. Self-care is essential to the recovery process and managing the difficulties of mental health. You may want to consider setting boundaries with family, watching what you spend on gifts, and share family responsibilities with others. If your anxiety and depression seem unmanageable during this holiday season, you may want to consider seeking professional help. Sometimes, the stigma of mental health disorders prevents us from getting the help we so desperately need. At Achieve Concierge, we make you feel comfortable and offer same-day appointments with our caring and dedicated staff. We also offer telemedicine appointments if you prefer. For more information about our services and treatment modalities, call (619) 393-5871.