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How to Prevent the Holiday Blues

Depression is never easy, but it can be especially difficult during the holidays.


People with Seasonal Affective Disorder may feel depressed in the winter and should seek professional help. But not everyone who feels depressed during the holidays suffers from Seasonal Affective Disorder. Women who struggle with mild depression can take steps to cope with the holiday blues.

Drs. Diane Fischer and Barry Tanner of the DMC’s Life Stress Center offer the following tips for coping with depression and enjoying the holiday season.

  • Get out and about – Ask friends and relatives for help in getting to parties and events. Invite them to your home.
  • Keep holiday spending under control – Financial stress can be a trigger for depression in many women.
  • Maintain reasonable expectations – Real life isn’t always like a classic holiday movie. Try not to expect too much.
  • Volunteer – Lift your mood by taking your mind off your own troubles. Contact local schools, religious organizations or charities to learn about volunteer opportunities.
  • Don’t drink too much alcohol – Alcohol is a depressant and can make you feel even worse.
  • Accept and express your feelings – There’s nothing wrong with feeling blue. Talking about it can help you understand why you feel like you do.
  • Recognize the signs of depression – Symptoms of clinical depression include prolonged sadness or loss of  interest or pleasure, as well as four or more of the following:
  • Changes in appetite or weight
  • Difficulty sleeping or sleeping more than normal
  • Frequent crying
  • Agitation or slowing observed by others
  • Frequent fatigue
  • Feeling worthless, helpless or guilty
  • Slowed thinking
  • Thoughts of death or suicide

If you are depressed, see your doctor. Depression is treatable and you do not have to suffer. “Many women do not realize that they are depressed,” Dr. Tanner said.  “It may be up to their friends and family to recognize the signs and encourage them to seek assistance.” 

If you suspect that someone you know is depressed, here are some things you can do to help:

  • Invite them to do things with you – Invite them to go places with you and to holiday gatherings. Any social contact can help, but getting out of the house is best. Be aware that they may need help with transportation or other special needs.
  • Help with holiday tasks – Offer to help them with holiday shopping and preparation for get-togethers in their own home.
  • Be a good listener – Encourage them to talk about how they are feeling and acknowledge that they may be going through a difficult time. Listen rather than trying to talk them out of it. Show them you are listening by repeating what you hear in your own words.
  • Encourage them to see a doctor – Many people resist seeing a doctor when they are depressed because they see depression as a sign of personal weakness and not as the medical condition that it is. Let your friends or loved ones know that it’s OK to seek treatment for depression and it can make a huge difference in their lives.
  • Remind them to take their medication – If you know your friend or loved one has seen a doctor for depression recently or has battled depression in the past, gently remind them to take their anti-depression medication exactly as prescribed by their physician. If a medication seems to have stopped working, it might be time to switch to a different medication. Again, encourage them to discuss it with a doctor.

To schedule an appointment with Drs. Fischer or Tanner, or another depression expert at DMC Women’s Health Services, call 1-888-DMC-2500.


Diane Fischer, Ph.D

Dr. Diane Fischer is a clinical psychologist at DMC Detroit Receiving Hospital.  She is a graduate of the University of Detroit Mercy clinical psychology master of arts program and doctoral of philosophy program.  She is a member of the American Psychological Association and has been and invited lecturer and presenter for several national and international meetings. 

Barry Tanner, Ph.D.

Dr. Barry Tanner is a clinical psychologist at DMC Detroit Receiving Hospital.  He has clinical interests in anxiety/pain attacks, depression and post-traumatic stress syndrome.  


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