Mental Health Can Be A Gift Too

Kelly Langevin, Assistant News Editor

The holiday season is among us once again. Families gather around a table full of food giving thanks for what they have been blessed with. Loud cheers from the living room from Thursday football is followed with family gathered on the couch. Thanksgiving will soon be a blur and Christmas gifts from friends and families’ favorite stores will be purchased. How about giving thanks and finding a new kind of gift? Mental health.

The holiday season is about appreciating the ones around us so we need to do more than shop for the best gift. We need to take care of them and appreciate friends and family on a higher level. Better yet, we need to do more than that. We need to take care of people we may not even know.

Seasonal depression, also known as Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a type of depression that is related to the change in seasons. SAD, for most people, usually starts and ends around the same time of year – the colder days.

Starting in the fall and continuing into the winter, people with SAD experience a variety of symptoms: feeling depressed most of the day, losing interest in activities you once enjoyed, low energy, feeling hopeless and having frequent thoughts about death or suicide.

It is important to let ones around you or someone you see struggling to know that they are not alone. Treatments for SAD include light therapy, medications and psychotherapy.

Changes in bipolar disorders may also become more severe. In the winter, people who suffer from bipolar disorder may become more depressed.

The reduced level of sunlight may cause winter-onset SAD. Loss of sunlight also reduces serotonin levels (a brain chemical) that affects mood may trigger SAD. Melatonin levels may also be affected which plays a roll in sleep.

It is also important to take care of yourself. If you are struggling this holiday season, seek help.

Bring those for help who may not do it on their own. Be a good support system and do more than give someone a gift card or new clothes. Bring someone to the doctors or to therapy. Giving goes beyond a physical gift. Give someone the gift of mental health.