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Think Out Loud

Winter Depression

Pete Springer/OPB

It’s the time of year when it is impossible to escape the expectation of happiness and joy. Carolers sing It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year. Store clerks, gas attendants, strangers and friends say “Happy Holidays!” But are they happy? Is it the most wonderful time of the year? For many people it is actually the most difficult time of the year — a time when loneliness, failure and sadness are much more prevalent than joy.

A slow economy and a continuing high rate of unemployment leave some people unable to buy gifts and keep up with the commercial expectations of the season. Parents battle how to fulfill their children’s desires while balancing their checkbook. Then there are the people for whom loss — by death or divorce or separation of any sort — has taken over their year. For them, grief can trump cheer, no matter how much they do to ignore the empty seat at the table.

For many of these people their depression is closely aligned with their current personal situation. But there are also the many people who routinely suffer from depression during the fall and winter months — a condition commonly know as SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder). Without proper treatment, struggling with feeling happy during the holidays can be a lifelong problem for many of these people.

According to the Mayo Clinic, some ways to combat depression during the holidays include acknowledging your feelings, planning ahead, learning to say no, and taking a breather. But for some people none of these tools will be enough.

Depression — whether mild or major, whether caused by the lack of light, or the loss of a person — sometimes goes unnoticed and even more often goes untreated. People suffer in silence, just hoping for a brighter day. Is that you?

Today we really want to know — how are you? If you’re sad, what are you doing to combat your blues?

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