Seasonal woes increase depression

Seasonal woes increase depression
Aspire Chief Clinical Officer Elizabeth McQueen
Aspire Chief Clinical Officer Elizabeth McQueen

ALBANY, GA (WALB) - The holiday season is filled with joy for many people.

But this time of year, some people aren't as cheerful as they might appear.

And the strain to keep up appearances, weighs heavily on their mental and emotional health.

"The clinical name is seasonal effective disorder," Aspire Chief Clinical Officer Elizabeth McQueen said. "And, essentially what that means is that there is a group of symptoms that occurs with individuals at a particular season of the year. The season we see the most occurrence of depression is in the winter months."

McQueen says this is in part due to darker days and less sunlight, which creates chemical changes in a person. But, it's also due to external changes like loss of family or income.

"All of the traditions that, when a family gets together, that are truly enjoyed get grieved over the holidays when you have this loss of loved ones or maybe it's a loss of income," McQueen said.

And these days, it's not just seeing the lights, singing the songs, watching the movies. It's seeing friends Facebook, Twitter and other social media posts that add to the equation. And it's starting to affect younger people.

"Social media can be a very positive or very negative, depending on the starting place of the individual," McQueen said.

To combat the problem, sites like Facebook are promoting statuses that encourage people to open up to friends or de-friend people if the highs or lows of the profile are getting to you.

"As a whole, what we can do as a community is to educate the young people at large, of what symptoms to watch for with their friends, even when those symptoms are showing up through the communication of social media," McQueen said.

And mental health isn't just a seasonal concern.

McQueen encourages people battling depression to talk to friends or professionals to cope with their issues, no matter what age or what season.

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