According to Mark DeSilva, MD, medical director, Emergency Department, Gottlieb Memorial Hospital, even though suicide rates go down around the holidays this does not mean that holiday depression is any less. In fact, emergency room visits often go up during this time of the year because those with depression feel lonely and left out of the festivities, exacerbating their depressed mood.
For those with no friends, family or support system the holidays can bring out deadly behavior such as alcohol and drug abuse as the individual attempts to cope with his feelings of alienation and sadness, DaSilva noted.
DaSilva offered the following 5 signs as opportunities to recognize holiday depression and intervene:
- Repeatedly avoiding social interaction
- Anger and pessimism about the holiday season
- Excessive alcohol and drug use
- Missing or being very late for work and social events
- Excessive sleeping
If you see these behaviors take action immediately, said DaSilva. Talk with them and offer to help. Make them aware of the programs and services in their community that can help.
"By recognizing when a person is in trouble, and speaking out, you may not only save them a trip to the ED, but also save a life," he said.