Welcome to another edition of the Doctor’s Note where we talk about what’s on our minds when it comes to your health. This week we are going to talk about DEPRESSION around the holidays and what to do about it.
There’s always a lot of depression around the holidays, but this year it might get worse because of the last two years with Covid. There has been high numbers of suicides and attempted suicides by both kids and adults reported, plus around 100,000 overdose deaths this year (which is almost double what it was a couple of years ago).
The statistics are staggering.
We can’t find enough mental health experts to fight our way out.
Kids are especially vulnerable. They’re the ones getting the worst of it even though they are the least vulnerable with Covid.
With all of the restrictions these last 2 years, many have been isolated and depressed. This affects their education and desire to learn during the critical developmental years.
Bad habits such as overeating has caused the rate of obesity among kids to skyrocket. Obesity among kids and adults continues to be one of the main risk factors for doing bad with Covid or almost any other health condition.
Dr. Robyn Branca
As I was preparing this article I consulted with mental health expert Dr. Robyn Branca, who sees patients at all of our Performance Medicine locations.
She’s an amazing psychologist who recently won a prestigious competition for a paper she wrote on depression and anxiety among critical care professionals during Covid.
She, along with her husband who is the Chief Pulmonologist at UT Medical Center, are going to be presenting the paper next month at a national meeting for the society for critical care medicine.
As I was consulting with her, she gave me a few bullet points on holiday happiness that I want to share and elaborate on in this Note.
Advice From Dr. Branca
The first thing she said was to imagine yourself waking up on January 2 and asking three questions.
- What do I wish I had done over the holidays?
There are critical thought patterns that she calls loneliness busters:
- Avoiding social media
- Find enjoyable activities
- Doing something for someone else (I love this one!)
- Finding solace in being with yourself (Be introspective)
- Create a new tradition (Do a jingle bell run for example)
- Go somewhere new
Think about these things when you ask yourself that first question.
- What do I regret having done over the holidays?
- Eating or drinking too much
- Watching too much television
- Spending too much money
One other thing is try to avoid engaging in conflict with other people.
Conflict with other people is a big one over the holidays. Remember that people have different ideas and different politics.
People are different. You haven’t walked in their footsteps.
Accept that people disagree on things.
Respect them, please!
A great strategy for this is playing board games together or doing a puzzle.
Take note of a few things you regret doing over the holidays and decide not to repeat them next year.
- How can I make next year different?
This is a great question to daydream about. Think about how things can get better and how you’re going to spend the next year executing on that.
Set goals and get creative!
Remember that if you can do something in your head then you can do it in real life!
Dream and then put it into action.
Let’s get excited about next year!
Have a blessed holiday.