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Here is how to deal with depression at Christmas

By Vision Reporter

Added 20th December 2005 03:00 AM

OlD-time favourite Christmas songs are playing again. It is a time of joy, celebrations and family reunions. A time to do all the exciting Christmas shopping and a time to be with your loved ones. Yes, it is the beautiful Christmas time. It is the favourite time of the year.

OlD-time favourite Christmas songs are playing again. It is a time of joy, celebrations and family reunions. A time to do all the exciting Christmas shopping and a time to be with your loved ones. Yes, it is the beautiful Christmas time. It is the favourite time of the year.

By Elvina Nawaguna
OlD-time favourite Christmas songs are playing again. It is a time of joy, celebrations and family reunions. A time to do all the exciting Christmas shopping and a time to be with your loved ones. Yes, it is the beautiful Christmas time. It is the favourite time of the year.
Yet in the midst of all the colour and excitement, someone somewhere is alone, depressed and down. Yes, for some people, it is the worst time of the year.
Celebrations aside, no time of the year provokes more reckoning, reflecting and nostalgia than this season.
Sylvia Rwambulla, a 25-year-old social scientist hates Christmas and the whole season and celebration that surround it.
“Whenever this time of the year comes, I feel depressed and very lonely. It reminds me of the time when my father and mother separated in 1989. It was a gloomy Christmas. My dad had thoroughly beaten up my mum a few days earlier and thrown her out. That was a bad Christmas. Mum wasn’t around and everyone was gloomy,” Rwambulla says.
“Every Christmas reminds me of the fact that I don’t have a home or family to go to,” Sylvia says. When the holiday season comes, she tends to be a loner and avoids people who seem to be enjoying the season.
A research carried out by Christine Webber and Dr David Delvin of the NetDoctor site revealed that Christmas is indeed a difficult time for a vast number of people. Over 45% of the people they talked to say they dread the festive season. They say it is a particular problem for depressed adults, who often feel worse as the festive season gets underway.
Dr. Larry Axmaker, a specialist in emotional health and stress management says more people become depressed during this season than at any other time of the year.
Beatrice Ntambi-Kakembo of Inspirations counselling services also says for many, the festive season comes with sad memories of death of loved ones. Family gatherings during this season reawaken memories that had been buried all year. For others, it is a reminder of something terrible that happened to them. Yet again, other people are nervous about the end of year. Some say because many bad things tend to happen towards the end of year, that feeling of apprehension awakens in many people about this time. It is common to hear people comment: “Shall we survive this year?”
As the year draws to an end, we slowly watch how far we have achieved our resolutions for the year. If the year ends and you have not been able to achieve your resolution, stress may set in. “It is worse if you are among people who have achieved their resolutions and you have to compare with them,” Kakembo says.
For older people, the festive season may be depressing because of the changes that time and age brings. It is at Christmas, especially for families that don’t meet regularly during the year and have family reunions at Christmas that they notice the physical deterioration of those close to them. The empty chairs created by the death over the years only serve as a reminder to the older people that they may be the next to depart and causes them to get depressed about this time of the year.
Financial limitations, high expectations and demands from family and the pressure of shopping and preparing for the Christmas day celebrations, can all be stressful.
Kakembo explains that expectations from extended family during the festive season can weigh you down if you are not able to meet them.

Holiday blues can manifest in lack of sleep and rest, weight gain or loss, extreme sadness or irritation, nervousness, fatigue, guilt feelings, increased use of alcohol and drugs, lack of concentration, feelings of worthlessness and withdrawal from people and in some cases, thoughts of suicide.
Axmaker says the severity of depression can increase right after the holidays. “Fatigue, loneliness, and disappointment may overwhelm you,” he says. He says if you realise the symptoms early enough, you can make some positive choices that will help you make this season a better one. Here are some tips:
l Avoid dwelling on the “good old days” and comparing them with today. Accept that things change every year and make the best of what you have this year. Accepting things that you cannot change like the death of loved ones or absence of some family members helps you look at things more realistically and enjoy the season, rather than brooding.
l Plan your finances in advance and make a realistic and achievable budget. It is okay to let those who are expecting things from you know that you may not be able to give them as much as they want this Christmas.
l Deborah Serwadda, community counsellor, says keeping yourself occupied around this time is helpful. She advises that you keep your mind busy with positive and constructive things as this helps to take your mind off the cause of the depression. If you have no family to go to, doing some voluntary work or helping out at a local charity, like an orphanage or children’s home, will make the season more meaningful to you. Doing something good for someone else will help you feel better about yourself.
l Serwadda also advises that if you believe in God, spending time in prayer is helpful. She also says that just talking about the problem helps to lift the weight off your shoulder. “Talk about it with people who understand or some one like-minded, rather than bottling it up.”
l Have an alternative Christmas. If you can afford it, go on a holiday somewhere new or go camping with friends. For if you have friends suffering the same during this season or who are not joining their families for the season, do something with them for fun.
l Exercise like jogging and taking a stroll and fresh air will help to ease stress.
Sserwadda, however, cautions against drowning your sorrows in alcohol or other destructive activity. This only makes you more vulnerable and only postpones the stress.
And remember, it is not your responsibility to deal with everything. If you are too busy, delegate to others who can help.
Ends

Here is how to deal with depression at Christmas

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