APA President Offers Some Advice for Beating Seasonal Stress, Depression
> 11/10/2006 10:36:38 AM

In a press release from the American Psychological Association, the group's president answers a number of questions about seasonal and holiday stress and the mild to more severe feelings of depression that often accompany it. APA President Gerald Koocher, Ph.D, who is also the dean of Simmons School for Health Studies, provides some great information as well as a number of strategies for coping. For many people stress and depression put a damper on what can otherwise be a time of celebration with family and friends. While for some stress and depression treatment might be a necessary part of life, heeding Dr. Koocher's advice will help others with little need for more organized treatments or interventions.

You can read the entire interview here, but we just wanted to highlight Dr. Koocher's response about depression during this season:

"Seasonal blues" are not uncommon. One contributing factor involves our expectations; the media and commercial interests bombard us with messages that may often seem at odds with the reality of our lives. You may feel sad because you remember a family member who is not with you this season. You may realize another year has come and gone without attaining some major goal you had hoped for. Or you may find yourself struggling with problems involving food or alcohol intake during holiday festivities. Seasonal affective disorder, known as "SAD," also presents a problem for some people, leading to mood changes during periods of decreased exposure to daylight.

As he points out, there are many factors that come into play when we talk about these seasonal feelings of stress and depression, and it is highly likely that most people will experience negative feelings from one or more of these sources. What is important to note, however, is to what extent these negative emotions affect your daily life and your overall health. It is often tough to discern when outside help should be consulted, but more often then not, it's not a bad idea to speak with someone. Whether that person is a friend or relative, a mental health professional or your GP, is a decision that each of us needs to make on our own.

The important thing to remember as the holiday shopping season kicks into high gear, and we are increasingly bombarded with outrageous advertisements and media portrayals of holiday happiness, is that we are not alone. As Dr. Koocher mentions, many people struggle during this time with feelings of depression and stress. Finding a way to cope, be it with a hobby or chatting in online message boards, can mean the difference between a happy New Year and one of discontent.

For more information about Seasonal Affective Disorder, keep your eyes peeled around these parts, as we'll continue to address the topic. Also, check out this fact sheet from the American Psychiatric Association.

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