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Holiday season can bring blues
Bryan Herriman original.jpg
Bryan Herriman

First comes the time change when clocks are set back one hour which in turn creates earlier darkness in the afternoon.

Then, as days pass and the holidays arrive, we’re reminded about the number of shopping days left until Christmas.

 And, of course, there’s the pressure of planning a family dinner, the rush of holiday parties, and for many unrealistic deadlines to get transactions completed or tasks accomplished before the end of the year.

Each of these matters, either individually or coupled with others, can provide enough stress to send some people into the depths of depression.

These elements, when coupled with bone-chilling weather, the threat of freezing rain or snow, and any of a dozen other issues, can often magnify the symptoms of depression, according to Bryan Herriman director of CHEER Mental Health an agency of Volunteer Behavioral Health.

Herriman contends the dark days of fall and winter, when combined with the stresses of the holiday season, can often trigger serious symptoms aligned with anxiety and depression.

A mood disorder commonly recognized as Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) gets much of the blame for depression experienced this time of year. SAD, which is related to the darker days of fall and winter and caused by a change from daylight-saving time to standard time, can be a significant factor in causing depression.

Herriman explained there are a number of different steps that might be taken to help defend against a SAD experience.

Exercise can help, as well as eating certain healthy foods. Appropriately managing holiday stress ranks very high on the list of defensive strategies.

Time can be a great ally when managed properly. Allow ample time for holiday shopping or for planning a special family dinner or holiday event. And, while the temptation may be great, avoid over indulging in food or alcohol.

If symptoms of depression continue, seek out relatives or friends who are supportive with whom time can be shared and, if the symptoms deepen or become more serious, seek professional help.

Volunteer Behavioral Health is a provider of prevention, treatment and recovery services in 31 counties in Middle, Southeast and the Upper Cumberland regions of Tennessee. For more information, contact the agency at 1-877-567-6051 or visit