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Doc Talk: Holiday depression

Doc Talk: Holiday depression.

Some refer to this time as the most wonderful time of year, but for others the holiday season may remind them of lost loved ones or it may bring up feelings of loneliness.

Holiday depression is common, especially in the elderly and Erica Mokay talked to an expert about how to help your holiday blues in this episode of Doc Talk.

Depression. For many, it's a daily struggle, but around the holidays depression can really affect the elderly for a number of reasons.

Borgess Nurse Practitioner Thomas Webb specializes in adult gerontology and said, for some, the holidays can bring about feelings of loss and loneliness.

Webb said, “Its a time of togetherness whether it be friends or family, but during that time if you're commonly use to experiencing that and you encounter a holiday season where you may have lost a family member or a close friend, relative, that can change your plans dramatically and cause someone to feel pretty down.”

A person's health can also hurt their holiday spirit.

Webb said, “There's been some statistics that have shown that when there's a chronic health condition, coronary artery disease, or past stroke, or even a cancer diagnosis. That depression can be in the elderly as high as 30 to 40 percent.”

Studies show those numbers are even higher for people living in nursing homes or assisted living facilities, but no matter the case, Webb said family and friends can play a big part in avoiding a blue Christmas.

He said it can be as simple as making a call, sending a card or paying a visit.

Webb said, “Sometimes that’s enough to get someone through the day and onto the next day, because it can be hard going day to day with depression.”

Finally, and more importantly, if you're the one feeling down, Webb said you shouldn't be afraid to talk about it with family and friends or with your doctor.

He said, “Coming in and being in an exam room with the knowledge that other people are also seeking treatment that way too, can be beneficial. You're not alone in the fight if you do come in to seek treatment for that.”

Webb said you can also help your elderly loved ones by making plans and keeping them busy. Planning ahead will give them something to look forward to, and cut down on those sad, depressive feelings.

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