Coping with holiday grief and seasonal affective disorder

Coping with holiday grief and seasonal affective disorder

SHELBY CO., Tenn. — Now is the time to check on loved ones who may be coping with the loss of someone or something this holiday season.

Local experts say this time of year can trigger seasonal depression, especially if someone is dealing with the loss of a loved one, friend, or are dealing with a life-changing event.

FOX13 spoke to Jason McCown with Saint Francis Hospital Behavioral Health Services.

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He said to pay special attention to those who seem withdrawn and aren't socializing.

"Decreased energy, a lack of appetite, loss or gain of weight, a lack of interest in daily activities - the things that we would typically do," McCown said.

Experts say less daylight and cooler temperatures in the fall and winter months, coupled with the holidays, can change a person's mental health and trigger seasonal affective disorder.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 5% of Americans experience season depression in any given year.

Experts say the holidays are a time when people are typically celebrating, but we should keep in mind it can also be a reminder of what an individual is lacking. That is why McCown suggests reaching out to people because you never know what they could be going through.

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"The holidays are a great time to reach out and make new friends or maybe check in with those loved ones or friends or contacts that maybe you haven't been in touch with for a while," he said. "Especially this time of year because holiday grief and season affective disorder are so prevalent, and we are doing such a great job of removing the stigma when it comes to mental health."

If you or someone you know needs help, McCown told FOX13 there are resources available.

"The Clinical Assessment Center has licensed professionals here around the clock. We offer free evaluations. We can speak with those who may be experiencing holiday grief or season affective disorder and make referrals on the appropriate level of care," he said.

If you or someone you know needs help right now, you can call the national crisis helpline at 1-800-233-4357.