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Getting help to cope with the holiday blues

The holidays typically are time spent with the family and in good cheer. But for folks who have experienced loss or trauma, this time of year can be challenging.

Diane Bocking-Byrd is a behavioral health and integration manager with CareOregon.org. She says the tragedy not only of loss but events such as divorce can contribute to the holiday blues.

To curb depression before it hits, Bocking-Byrd suggests people limit their use of alcohol or other substances over the holidays. She says people should listen to family members and friends, too, because they may have noticed something is different.

"Oftentimes, it's other people that notice it before we do, and so that's the time to probably seek at least what's called a screening at your primary-care physician's office," she explains.

Bocking-Byrd says people who experience a lack of motivation or apathy for two or weeks or more should seek help. She adds that CareOregon has established a process where all the primary-care providers in its network are able to screen for symptoms of depression and refer patients to the necessary specialist.

Bocking-Byrd also notes that our society isn't very good at dealing with the expression of sadness, which can lead people to bottle up those feelings. That can actually lead to physical health conditions as well as depression. She says it's important to remember that if someone experiences depression it's not their fault. It's a health issue and needs to be addressed like any other health issue.

"It's nobody's fault," she stresses. "Nobody's flawed. It happens with genetics, it happens with prolonged sadness or exposure to trauma and it can also be a side effect of diabetes, high blood pressure and cardiac conditions."

Bocking-Byrd says CareOregon has care coordinators who can help folks find the right services over the phone. People can also call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK for prevention and crisis resources. Bocking-Byrd says if someone needs immediate attention, call 911.


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