Depression is a problem for over 2.9 million people over Christmas, according to Dr Gowrisunkur consultant psychiatrist from the Priory.
More than 2.9 million people in the UK are diagnosed as having depression at any one time. As many as one in three people will be affected by depression at some point in their lives.
People who have had deaths in the family or have experienced divorce or the loss of a child are more prone to depression, especially during the holiday season.
Dr Jaya Gowrisunkur consultant at the Priory said: “The last thing someone suffering from depression may feel is optimistic about the New Year but depression is treatable with appropriate interventions and support.
“Psychological treatments for depression are many and varied. They range from the emotional support provided by the regular opportunity to talk about feelings to a professional, right through to specialised forms of psychotherapy such as cognitive behavioural therapy.”
A depressed patient will report at least five of the following symptoms for longer than a two week period:
- Depressed mood, nearly every day during most of the day
- Diminished interest or pleasure in almost all activities
- Significant weight loss, weight gain, or change in appetite
- Too much or too little sleep
- Agitation or lethargic
- Fatigue or loss of energ
- Feelings of worthlessness or inappropriate guilt
- Impaired ability to concentrate or indecisiveness
- Thoughts of death or suicide
Dr Gowrisunkur said: “Many people struggle anyway with depression and anxiety during the darkest months of the year. Christmas adds extra stress with presents to buy, meals to prepare, expectations to live up to and family to deal with. Add to that the financial problems that might arise when the bills arrive in January and it is little wonder that Christmas is the most likely time of the year to experience depression.
“Feelings off detachment, numbness, loss or pressure to make Christmas special can make the symptoms of depression worse. For people who are on their own Christmas can be the loneliest time of the year. A sense of isolation can be felt much more acutely when the rest of the population appears to be celebrating and having a good time.”
According to Dr. Gowrisunkur there are a few simple steps that could help alleviate a depression.
- Beware of drinking to excess.
- Remember that alcohol is a depressant and can worsen the symptoms of depression.
- If you are worried about being alone, find out what is going on in your local community or join a local volunteer group.
- See whether there is a good day or time to visit friends or relatives if you crave company.
- If, on the other hand, you are worried about being overwhelmed at family events, think ahead about which you want to go to, and which you will be able to make your apologies for.
- Sharing your feelings with others, such as friends and family members can help you identify and work through any emotional challenges you may be experiencing. Having a reliable network of social supports can help combat the feelings of isolation that often accompany depression.
- Regular physical activity has been shown to have antidepressant effects in people with mild to moderate depression.
- Do not be afraid to seek professional help.
Dr Gowrisunkur added: “At a time when depression is affecting more and more people it is important that the medical profession acts quickly to identify and treat the illness, thereby empowering the sufferer to address the issues and challenges facing them and move ahead with their lives.”