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Depression and the Holidays

November 28, 2022

For most, holidays are a joyous time to visit with friends and families, however for some older adults, the celebrations can be difficult and cause depression. During this time, older adults may more acutely feel the passing of time, the absence of parents, siblings and friends who have died, and the distance of loved ones who have moved away. Traditional holiday reunions and rituals observed in the past may not be possible or lack meaning. Plan activities that you enjoy and contact friends and family members with whom you want to spend time. Maintain contact with the world around you.

Symptoms to watch for

Late-life depression is common in older adults and can last more than two weeks. Symptoms include:
  • Disturbed sleep (sleeping too much or too little)
  • Change in appetite (weight loss or gain)
  • Physical aches and pains
  • Irritability and intolerance
  • Loss of interest in things that usually give them pleasure
  • Feelings of worthlessness or guilt
  • Difficulty concentrating or making decisions
  • A sense of hopelessness or feeling life is not worth living
  • Recurring thoughts of death or suicide

Countering depression

Depression is not a normal part of aging, nor a sign of weakness. There are ways to improve your mood, such as:
  • Take care of your health
  • Get plenty of sleep
  • Eat nutritiously
  • Stay physically active
  • Limit consumption of alcohol
If you think you may be experiencing depression, talk with a doctor.