Wednesday, December 27, 2006

“Holiday blues” are not depression

The “holiday blues” are not depression; they are a symptom of an acute situational disturbance. Unmet expectations, feelings of loss of what once was (or what is “remembered” to have once been), over-spending, over-celebrating can all contribute to the development of the “holiday blues”.

However, the “blues” can be superimposed on (chronic) depression, exacerbating it symptoms. Depression is a neurobiological disease with vegetative and somatic symptoms. A Harvard University study (2005) found that the US leads the world in rates of mental illness, yet has one of the lowest treatment rates. Depression is the most common mental illness, affecting over 34 million Americans. It is a major cause of disability and results in more lost productivity than any disease other than heart disease.

Most Americans don’t seek treatment, many out of fear. Fear of seeking treatment, fear of the stigma attached to mental illness, and fear of admitting that a problem exists. As well, there is at times difficulty in recognizing that the disease/problem does exist, because of denial, because of the disease or because of others “blocking”. In addition, there are severe access problems in getting help when you need it and want it. No insurance, limited insurance coverage and lack of care providers all contribute to the access difficulties.

Let us, as the “great” nation that we are, make a resolution/commitment to address this multifaceted “problem” in the New Year and beyond.

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