Depression can sometimes be a silent monster. It can be defined in many ways and the symptoms are endless. Those who deal with depression don’t always immediately recognize the signs. There is chronic depression, which is usually ongoing and something that those who suffer from deal with as a part of everyday life. Then there is acute depression, which comes about unexpectedly and at unanticipated times. One of the most common occurrences of acute depression is during the holiday season. This time of year can be emotionally and mentally challenging for those who have lost a loved one, live far from close relatives or those who have experienced something extremely traumatic during this time of year. The holiday season is typically a time people come together in love, gratitude and to reflect, but no one should have to suffer alone or in silence. Here are a few ways to combat depression this holiday season:

1. Stay Connected- It’s no secret that depression can creep up on you during your alone time. This is for many reasons. For some, being alone gives too much space for negative thinking and behaviors. Too much alone time can also cause you to feel unsupported and left to battle challenges alone. These things aren’t necessarily true but depression can often give you this perception. It’s important to remind yourself that you are loved and supported. Keep in touch with family during these times. If you are out of town, do regular video chats or phone talks. Plan a weekend trip if possible. Keep up with friends and don’t be afraid to reach out. Don’t allow silence and seclusion to be a silent killer.

2. Stay Active- Do you usually go to karaoke every Friday night? Do you usually attend weekly meetings at an organization you support? How about you regular workout routine? Stay committed to those activities. Keeping up with daily, weekly, and monthly routines during this time of year continues to give you a sense of purpose and can sometimes serve as a positive distraction.

3. Give Back- This is another part of staying active but has meaning all on its own. Evening though it’s always rewarding to give back, the holiday season is a time where we see charity and volunteering being highlighted. So, join a cause and get involved. Being a help to others can make us realize the reality of our own situations and help us heal in the process. Sometimes we realize the challenges we face are only an inkling of what someone else is dealing with.

4. Eat Right- Food is a big part of the holiday season and what we eat affects our mood and our behaviors. It may be hard to not have a drink or two during the holiday season but consume alcohol in moderation, if at all. Caffeine and foods high in calories should also be avoided when possible. Find foods that will help boost your serotonin levels naturally and balance your mood. A few good foods to help combat depression are: chickpeas, lentils, spinach, salmon, and dark chocolate.

No one should have to battle depression alone this holiday season alone. I hope this helps.