For many the highlight of the month of February is Valentine’s Day. It is a day of romance, love and thoughtful gifts. It makes romantics draw closer and makes others too long for a happy romantic relationship. Red roses are, at this time, the markers of love and happiness. Occasionally, for some, there may even be a secret valentine with its air of mystery and intrigue.
All our holidays bring psychological benefits whether it be bringing families together at Thanksgiving (after the long trek home) or spiritual/religious festivals plus gift giving at Christmas or Hanukah. However, all seasonal holidays can have a dark side especially for anybody suffering from depression.
Depression often carries the symptom of anhedonia, which literally means an inability to experience pleasure. How hard it must be when everyone around you is having fun and you are shut out of it by virtue of being stuck a major depressive episode? Patients suffering from depression are not able to maintain their social contacts very well – they may withdraw and isolate, often worsening their depression further. Such isolation is further amplified at holiday time. For sure on Valentine’s Day, the lack of a partner will be felt even more keenly. Sometimes major depression can start at holiday time due to all the stress and high expectations it encompasses for many. For those already suffering from depression, holidays like Valentine’s Day, Christmas and Thanksgiving the preexisting major depression can be made worse.
How to help when holidays seem to make things worse rather than helping, as they are supposed to do?
Therefore, here’s what Dr. O’Reardon has to say about dealing with Valentine’s Day or other holidays when you are feeling low.
Fighting Depression at the Holidays Successfully
Holiday time can be made better if you already suffer from depression or generally made easier if you are stress sensitive.
Here are some things you can do then and year round to keep the blues away:
- Take a positive perspective as much you can on your general situation. Reach out to others, when possible, bearing in mind that depression tends to make one withdraw and isolate, ultimately to one’s detriment. Social contacts and relationships, when they are healthy ones, are indeed protective against future relapses of depression
- When you can it is good to try to be in the present, what we call “mindfulness”. Don’t worry too much about the past or the future. One is past and over and the other we do not control.
- Exercise is a good antidepressant with no side effects. If you can exercise three times a week, half an hour at a time, five times per week is even better. You don’t have to go to the gym either .A brisk 20-30 minute walk can be just as good for your physical and mental health and there are no membership fees.
- Pay a lot of attention to getting good sleep, 8 hours a night if possible. Go to bed and get up at the same time every day, even at the weekends. If you really need one, take a nap. No coffee after 6 pm. Don’t exercise late in the day if possible. It revs you up too much before sleep.
- TMS Philadelphia can help you with treatment resistant depression (TRD)
Major Depression can be treated successfully in most cases with therapy or medications. However, these approaches by no means work for everybody.
If they haven’t worked for you then TMS, an exciting new treatment, with virtually no side effects, may help you. I have been conducting research and administering treatment with TMS now for over 20 years, for many years at the University of PA and now in private practice.
In those 20 years I have made many contributions to developing the science and treatment of TMS. With my research background and clinical experience, I believe I am very well equipped to help you overcome depression.
I look forward to the opportunity to helping you recover and go forwards with your life.