How to cope with holiday blues

Dec. 24, 2012 at 7:16 PM
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TORONTO, Dec. 24 (UPI) -- It may be the best time of the year for many, but for some, the holidays are the most depressing time of the year, Canadian researchers say.

Colleen Carney, a sleep and depression expert and psychology professor at Ryerson University in Toronto, says when people feel down, they often avoid being around others, which increases the likelihood their depression will worsen.

Instead, she says, be sure to be around people this holiday season, but don't put up with acquaintances, friends or family members who make you feel badly. Instead, limit the amount of time spent with those who tend to have negative attitudes and surround yourself with close friends who can offer you lots of support and understanding.

For those who can't sleep, Carney says not being able to sleep might be a cue to take better care of yourself.

If an all-day family marathon produces dread and remorse, consider a change -- reduce the time spent visiting, reduce expectations, or make an appearance and then leave and do something you enjoy.

Excess food or alcoholic beverages can make a person feel uncomfortable, sluggish, or even guilty, leading to more depression. Caffeine, alcohol and foods that produce an upset stomach or acid reflux/heartburn could interfere with sleep, while alcohol or caffeine could affect mood and sleep patterns as well, Carney says.

Feeling depressed or unable to derive pleasure from activities for more than two weeks might be more than just the holiday blues, so talk to your doctor about whether you are suffering from clinical depression, Carney suggests.

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