Most of us know that the holidays can be stressful.  There is shopping, dealing with crowds and long lines, entertaining, traveling, worries about debt and seeing certain relatives.  In addition, it can be a very emotional time of year if we have recently experienced the loss of a loved one.  Actually, we can experience sadness and depression because we are missing our family and friends who are no longer with us, even if it was not a recent loss.  We experience the traditions without that person and we recall the memories and it can be a very difficult time.

It is best to express our feelings and talk with someone.  We can talk with a friend or sometimes we may need to talk with a counselor.  For some of us, it can be helpful to write about our feelings in a journal. Another therapeutic activity is to write a letter to our loved one to express how we are feeling. Viewing pictures and videos of the times spent with our loved ones can also be very helpful.

It is not recommended that you force yourself to be happy or pretend that you are having fun.  It is healthy to express your real feelings. Crying and laughing are both healthy releases of our feelings and of stress. It is also good to acknowledge that we are not excited about the upcoming family events and parties. The pressure that we place on ourselves to have fun takes a tremendous amount of energy and can cause fatigue and the blues.

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According to the National Institute of Mental Health, major depressive disorder is characterized by a combination of symptoms that interfere with a person’s ability to work, sleep, study, eat and enjoy activities that were once pleasurable. These symptoms last longer than just a few days and can prevent you from functioning. You should seek the help of a mental health professional, if you are experiencing these symptoms daily or most of the day for 2 weeks or more.  If you are having thoughts of suicide you should immediately go to an emergency room or call 911.

Most of us experience a typical amount of sadness during this season. Be sure to express it and if you feel that you need to talk with a professional, you should do so.