A second wave of COVID-19 is causing another big wave of depression and anxiety this holiday season as the nation continues to grapple with a dangerous pandemic that is spreading like wildfire. While the pandemic is exacerbating stress, it’s important to recognize that other holiday stressors can be contributing to anxiety.
“Many people experience sadness during the holidays, but an extended period of profound sadness and anxiety can lead to, and even indicate serious mental health disorders,” says Dr. Andrea Raby, Vice President of Psychiatry at Bayless Integrated Healthcare.
While the current pandemic is a major source of stress, Dr. Raby cites these common holiday stressors that often take the joy out of the season:
Even years after a loved one passed, the holidays can bring about deep sadness and grief. Signs to look for include changes in sleep patterns, loss of appetite, feelings of emptiness, fatigue, and trouble concentrating. Some ways to combat grief include reconnecting with other loved ones via phone or Zoom, volunteering, journaling, and spending time outside in nature.
Anxiety and depression due to social isolation are heightened even more this year due to the pandemic. Some people may also begin to withdraw from family and friends due to depression. Signs to look for include fatigue, feeling overwhelmed, a change in eating habits, and a lack of motivation and purpose. In addition, be aware of the increases in socially isolative behaviors. These include a decrease in contact with friends or family, telephonically or via social media outlets. Also, this can manifest not only in personal dynamics, but in one’s professional life, such as missed work time and/or decreased social contact with colleagues. Some ways to combat social isolation include connecting with friends or family via phone or Zoom, writing letters to others who may be alone, signing up for a virtual class or workshop, and spending time outside with others.
Seasonal Affected Disorder (S.A.D):
This recurrent depressive disorder is caused by the seasons changing, and while not as common in the desert, it often presents during the winter months of northern Arizona and other cold climates. It is most prevalent with younger age groups and can lead to disruptions in sleep, overeating, and lethargy. If a loved one in a cloudier climate is showing signs of depression, it may help to see a mental health professional. If the diagnosis is S.A.D., light or phototherapy and melatonin may be recommended.
“The holidays will certainly look and feel different this year,” Dr. Raby says. “Remember that you’re not alone, and that help is available.”
New patients can call Bayless Integrated Healthcare at 602-777-6337 for a free, 15-minute wellness consultation. You can also click here to make an appointment online. Remember, if you are experiencing a crisis, please call 911 immediately.