The holiday blues might be a common phenomenon, but there's plenty you can do to protect your mental health this time of year.
Even in a tumultuous year like 2017.
"With its combination of natural and human disasters, this year was especially traumatic for many people," said Dr. Richard Catanzaro, chief of psychiatry at Northern Westchester Hospital in Mount Kisco, N.Y.
In addition, "social media can make it seem like everyone you know is having the best time of their lives, while what you're really seeing is everyone's 'greatest hits,' " he said in a hospital news release.
"This adds to the pressure many people feel to have a good time during the holidays. If they are not enjoying themselves, they may feel out of step with everyone else," Catanzaro said.
Along with causing and intensifying depression and anxiety, the holiday season can trigger sadness about relatives and friends who are no longer alive, feelings of exhaustion and stress about money, he noted.
What to do? Catanzaro suggests taking preventive steps.
If you do feel depressed, don't isolate yourself, Catanzaro said. If you're already seeing a therapist, be sure to continue over the holidays -- and if you're not seeing a therapist, consider seeking help.
Also, if you know or suspect you have a condition called Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) -- a form of depression that occurs in the winter months due to less daylight -- there are effective treatments such as light therapy, psychotherapy and medications.
The National Alliance on Mental Illness has more on beating the holiday blues.
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