Colorado Community

Experts Urging Caution Around Depression and Holiday Season

Aimee Sharp
Author | Shield HealthCare
12/24/14  8:43 PM PST
Depression Christmas

By Brandon Johansson for the Aurora Sentinel

AURORA | During Thanksgiving week the Arapahoe County coroner’s office investigated four suicides. That may not seem like much, but Arapahoe County Coroner Kelly Lear-Kaul said it’s double what she sees in a typical week.

With Christmas and New Year’s Day approaching, Arapahoe County officials and mental health agencies say they hope to raise awareness about how holiday stress can aggravate depression and lead to an increased risk of suicides.

Mike Tapp, division director of crisis services for Aurora Mental Health, said that for anyone already dealing with depression, the holidays can make it worse.

“Any kind of stress definitely aggravates depression,” he said.

And with the mountain of expectations people face this time of year, stress can mount quickly.

“There is a lot of pressure on people to meet different types of obligations,” he said.

Beth Tamborski, a clinical therapist at the Arapahoe/Douglas Mental Health Network, said that holiday stress leads to people not taking care of themselves. Tamborski, who is clinical manager of the network’s Turning Points and Integrated Care programs, said the stress of the holidays often leads to people not eating right, skipping exercise, drinking more alcohol than normal and not getting enough sleep. All of that, Tamborski said, can aggravate depression.

With that risk out there, Tamborski said it is crucial that people battling the holiday blues try to stay active and social — whether by volunteering, staying on close contact with friends or anything else.

“It’s really important for individuals who are feeling down to not isolate,” she said.

And, Tamborski said, if people are depressed, they shouldn’t hesitate to reach out for professional help.

She said the state’s 24-hour suicide crisis line, which can be reached at 1-844-493-TALK, is a good place to start.

Read the Full Article at the Aurora Sentinel.