Dec 17, 2010 7:55 PM by Zach Thaxton

Blue Christmas: holidays difficult for those with loneliness

The hustle and bustle of the holiday season are a source of cheer and merriment for most people, but millions dread the holidays and become so lonely and depressed that they contemplate suicide.

"Holidays can be a painful reminder of people they've lost when everyone around them is making merry with their friends and family," says Andrew Van Dyke with Rockies Counseling Center in Colorado Springs.  He says elderly people who have lost a spouse or close friends, people of any age who have lost a spouse, parent, or sibling, families of military service members who have died during deployment, and even those who have lost a beloved pet often have the most difficult time during the holidays.  Symptoms can vary widely.  "Loss of appetite, sleep disturbances, feelings of depression, loneliness, suicidal thoughts," Van Dyke said.

The key component to holiday-related depression is loneliness, Van Dyke says.  "We're social animals.  We need each other."  Van Dyke says seeking treatment from a mental health professional can identify the source of negative feelings and ways to pursue corrective action. 
"Finding a new friend or having a therapeutic relationship may alleviate those feelings quite rapidly," Van Dyke said, "however, if it's a chronic condition, it didn't get there overnight and it won't alleviate itself overnight."

If you or someone you know is experiencing suidical thoughts, call the Suicide Prevention Partnership at (719) 596-5433.


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