Blue Christmas more than a song around the holidays

By Roger White
December 22, 2016 - 5:00pm

Christmas is traditionally a time for celebration but according to one local doctor, it can be a stressful time of year causing the 'Christmas Blues'.

Wayne Schlapkohl, a psychologist with the Battleford Mental Health Centre feels that along with money problems, family conflicts, and loss of a loved one, many times expectations are a main trigger that can turn the joyous season into one of sadness and isolation.

“I have two schools of thought on the so-called Christmas Blues. First, we have such high expectations at Christmas that we should be happy because we are with family or we have time off but for some reason it doesn’t happen. That can often be frustrating,” Schlapkohl said. “And then sometimes we get so wrapped up in all the preparations whether it be getting the shopping done, baking, decorating the house that it sometimes gets overwhelming.”

According to the Canadian Mental Health Association, mental illness indirectly affects all Canadians at some time through a family member, friend or colleague of all ages, educational and income levels and cultures. Twenty per cent of Canadian will personally experience a mental illness in their lifetime and eight per cent of adults will experience major depression at some point in their life according to Schlapkohl.

Many times, those suffering from depressive episodes seldom recognize the symptoms. Schlapkohl said there are several signs we can look out for with family and friends that could be a red flag for depression.

“We like to say that if someone is sad for a day or two, they may just be in a bad mood however if someone seems sad for two weeks or longer it could certainly be a sign of depression. If someone says that they are exhausted, have no appetite, lacks concentration, or has sleep problems then there is a more serious issue here than just being in a bad mood,” he said.

Schlapkohl also suggest that keeping an open dialogue with the person is one of the best things you can do to help.

“Simply making them aware that you are there for them and that talking with them is huge. Remember it won’t be easy because sometimes the person will push you away because they feel that they are not good company or lack energy,” he said “But they will certainly appreciate that you have made the effort.”

According to the Canadian Mental Health Association there are some steps you can take that can ease the pain of depression such as avoiding alcohol and drug use, getting plenty of exercise and talking to someone whether it is a friend, family member, your family doctor or a mental health professional.

Once depression is recognized, help can make a difference for 80 per cent of people affected, allowing them to get back to enjoying life.


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Twitter: @rogerwhiteCJNB

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