Everyone feels blue or sad sometimes, especially these days with the weather getting colder and darker and the stress of the holidays right around the corner.
These feelings can be short-lived and pass within a couple of days. Unfortunately, due to the increased isolation and financial pressures, many of us are facing more serious mental health issues such as depression.
Depression can interfere with daily life and causes pain for both you and those who care about you. Depression is a common but serious illness. People often give you advice to “just get over it” or “pull yourself up by your bootstraps.”
There are several types of depression. Seasonal affective disorder, a type of depression, is most common in areas of the country that do not get a lot of sunlight during parts of the year.
Adjustment disorder with depressive symptoms is also quite common now as a result of people struggling with the changes brought about by COVID-19 and its impact on our daily living.
There are many people with a depressive illness that do not seek help but most people with depression can get better with treatment.
Medications, psychotherapies and other methods can effectively treat people with depression. If you are experiencing any symptoms of depression such as trouble sleeping, trouble eating, extreme sadness, loss of interest in things, feeling hopeless or helpless and you would like help, there are many places to turn. You can talk to your primary care provider about how you are feeling and he or she can help you negotiate getting the services that will help.
Mental health clinics typically house providers, such as psychiatrists, psychologists, social workers or mental health counselors. There are also private mental health practitioners and clinics as well as employee assistance programs that can be accessed through your place of employment. Often the first few visits to an employee assistance program is free of charge.
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Sometimes people experiencing depression and other mental illnesses feel there is no place to turn and begin to look at harming themselves as an option. If you are thinking about harming yourself, or know someone who is, tell someone who can help immediately.
Do not leave your friend or relative alone, and do not isolate yourself.
Call your doctor.
Call 911 or go to a hospital emergency room to get immediate help, or ask a friend or family member to help you do these things.
Call the toll-free, 24-hour hotline of the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255); TTY: 1-800-799-4TTY (4889) to talk to a trained counselor. suicidepreventionlifeline.org
Call the Mobile Crisis Assessment Team 315-732-MCAT (6228).
When you face a stressful event or major life change, you can take some steps to care for your emotional well-being.
Do what works for you. For example, you can:
• Talk things over with supports (family and friends)
• Try to keep eating a healthy diet
• Stick to a regular sleep routine
• Get regular physical activity
• Engage in a hobby you enjoy
• Find a support group geared toward your situation
• Find support from a faith community
If you use these kinds of self-care steps but they don't seem to be helping, be sure to talk to your doctor.
Most people find treatment helpful, and they often require treatment only briefly. However, others may benefit from longer treatment.
For additional resources visit: nimh.nih.gov
Jodi Kapes is the director of behavioral health at Mohawk Valley Health System in Utica.
This article originally appeared on Observer-Dispatch: Essay: Dealing with holiday depression and stress