The holiday season offers many opportunities to spend quality time with family and friends. It is also a time-of-year that can impact moods or behavior, especially as we age.
With this in mind, you may notice unusual signs of fatigue or sadness or perhaps limited interest during the holiday season, which is often due to the holiday season itself along with the colder months which accompany it in many parts of the country.
If so, you’re not alone!
In fact¹, Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), also termed winter depression, winter blues, or summer depression, summer blues, is no longer classified as a unique mood disorder, but rather as a specifier for a recurrent major depressive disorder called “with seasonal pattern” that occurs only during a specific time of year and fully remits thereafter. Although initially skeptical, experts now recognize this condition as a common disorder, with prevalence among adults ranging from 1.4% in Florida to as many as 9.7% in New England.
If you or a family member are feeling the effects of SAD, treatment may be as simple as relieving loneliness through visitations, outings or involvement in family activities. In more severe cases antidepressant drugs have been known to improve the quality of life in depressed elderly people. Cognitive therapy sessions with a counselor may also be effective.
A few additional suggestions that might help include:
- Get involved! Contact family or friends and proactively seek opportunities to interact socially with others
- Church activities
- Shopping with a companion, whether in-store or even on-line
- Holiday-themed decorating
- Exercise – simple exercises geared toward elders are sufficient for stimulating more positive feelings