Holiday season is here. While it is often a time of good spirits and joy, that is only part of the picture.Read More
Are you feeling an increasing sense of sadness, hopelessness, or emptiness that has lasted for several weeks, or longer? Are you sleeping more than normal on some nights and not at all on others? Has your enjoyment of normally pleasurable activities diminished significantly? Do you feel as if all your bodily energy has disappeared? Do you feel adrift and disconnected from others? Are all these changes and feelings interfering with your ability to complete tasks at work and be an engaged family member at home? Have thoughts of death and suicide entered your consciousness?
These feelings and changes to normal routine might signal depression. And the lasting impact of the pandemic and the shorter hours of sunlight have likely made things worse.
The holiday season can also play a role. Although we think of the holidays as time of joy, they can trigger further sadness and dread. And no matter how many times you think, “I shouldn’t be feeling this way,” it does not seem to help.
You are not alone. Depression is a clinical mental health condition that affects millions of Americans each year. The challenges and potential dangers brought on by depression are real. It’s important to accept that depression is difficult, but it’s not hopeless. Depression is treatable through talk therapy, support groups, medication, changes to daily routine, engagement in meaningful activities or some combination of all of these.
Beyond the pain and difficulty that accompanies depression, it can also provide an opportunity for tremendous growth. By acknowledging depression, embracing the choices at hand, and taking action, you may arrive at a life better than all previous versions you have created. Through the work of recovery from depression, your resilience and self-awareness can be improved. It might sound like a cliché, but when talking about depression the way out of it is through it.
And none of this growth happens alone. If acknowledging the experience of depression is the first step, reaching out for help is the second. There is ample support (in-person and virtual) available, regardless of your insurance status or ability to pay. If you are having thoughts of harming yourself, please call your local crisis screening center or 988. If you just need to talk to someone concerning your emotions or mental health (non-emergency), please call the NJ Peer Recovery Line (877-292-5588).
By Joe O'Brien