For most people the holiday season is a time of joy and togetherness. For individuals experiencing depression, it is a difficult period because of the contrast between how they feel and the way the rest of their world is acting.
According To the National Institute of Mental Health, at any given time nearly 10% of the American population suffers with depression, a potentially serious medical illness. Although the severity of the depression can vary, it always has an impact on quality of life. It affects the way you feel,
the way you think, and the way you act and interact. Depression does not discriminate; it affects men and women, young and old and people of all races, cultures and incomes.
What is even more alarming is the estimate that only about one third of those affected ever seek treatment for the condition. For the rest, either the symptoms go unrecognized as a sign of illness or fears about the reactions of co-workers, friends or family, cause them to suffer in silence. As a result, they endure unnecessary discomfort and often experience problems at
their jobs or in their relationships. “Depression is a treatable medical problem”, says Quentin Turnbull, MD, Medical Director at The Mental Health Center of Greater Manchester, “if only those affected would feel comfortable asking for treatment when they feel they need it.” Of those who seek treatment, most show significant improvement and nearly everyone derives some
benefit from medical care.
Several factors play a role in the onset of depression. Some factors are physiological and others are situational. It is some combination of these factors that triggers a reaction. It should be understood that depression can occur even under ideal living conditions.
Depression goes well beyond normal feelings of sadness. There are a variety of symptoms but the most common are deep, persistent, long-lasting feelings of sadness, even despair. People may feel constantly tired, listless, helpless and overwhelmed by life. Lack of self-care,
restlessness, changes in sleep or eating patterns, irritability as well as emotional and physical withdrawal, are also responses that may be present. Suicidal thoughts or behaviors can occur in some people. For many the symptoms are mild and easier to ignore but they still create discomfort, impacting quality of life and need to be addressed.
If you notice that you, or someone you care about, has become unable to enjoy the spirit of the holidays, it might suggest that they are experiencing depression. One of the most difficult parts of being treated for depression is taking that first step of asking for help. During the holidays consider trying to help someone you are concerned about to reach out and take that first step to improve the quality of their life. What a wonderful holiday gift.
For more information about depression and treatment options, please feel free to call The Mental Health Center at (603)668-4111 or their affiliated group practice, Bedford Counseling Associates at (603)623-1916 or visit our website at www.mhcgm.org.