Mental health issues during the holidays -- and beyond

Some experts disagree with the conventional belief that diagnoses of clinical depression and anxiety increase over the holidays. In fact, a 2012 study at a major university’s public policy center actually indicated that suicide rates were highest in the spring and summer.

However, certain individuals may be more susceptible to anxiety and depression over the holidays, given the seasonal association with family gatherings For example, the newly sober or those dealing with feelings of isolation or the loss of a loved one may need extra strategies to stay healthy.

Although work schedules may become sporadic, at least one mental health expert advises sticking to a regular routine of sleep, diet and exercise over the holidays. Relation doesn’t need to include a hiatus from the gym. In fact, the healthy release of endorphins from exercise -- without the accompanying rush back to the office -- might be just what the doctor ordered.

Hopefully, individuals will return to work feeling refreshed, even in spite of potentially awkward moments with the in-laws. For those whose concentration seems to have worsened, however, a trip to the doctor might be in order.

Although mental disabilities like severe depression and anxiety can be difficult to diagnose, the first step is often ruling out other physical explanations. When mental health issues do impair concentration and energy to the point of preventing someone from working, a consultation with a disability benefits attorney should be included as an early action item, in addition to other aspects of a prescribed medical treatment regime.

Source: Time, “Why the Holidays Don’t Make Everyone Feel So Jolly,” Alexandra Sifferlin, Dec. 18, 2013