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May Your Days be Merry and Bright...

There is a myriad of things at Christmastime which are meant to create an atmosphere of celebration, wonder, and excitement. Carols are playing in every store and even on the streets. Garland and greens deck the halls of churches and court houses alike. Christmas trees (and an occasional leg lamp) are in many household windows, and there are enough bright lights everywhere that they can actually be seen from space!

With all the jolly cheer in the air, you would think that everyone would be full of happiness and glee. But, more often than not, Christmastime and the arrival of winter initiates the onset of depression and sadness for countless individuals. These bouts of downheartedness and gloom can sometimes be temporary or merely seasonal episodes. But for a lot of seniors, it’s a more permanent condition.

Seniors are not alone though! Did you know that depression happens to be one of the most common health conditions in the world? Depression isn't a weakness, nor is it something that you can simply "snap out of." Depression is a medical illness that involves the mind and body. One thing is for sure, depression is painful.

If you are suffering from depression or experiencing depression like symptoms, we encourage you to see your doctor immediately. Like any illness, an effective diagnosis and treatment plan can help reduce even the most severe symptoms.

Here are some suggestions from on the offensive towards battling depression:

1. Treat sleeping problems: Many seniors who live alone are prone to sleeping problems which can aggravate depression. Keep a regular sleep schedule!

2. Realize you have a purpose: Take up a hobby or try social pastime activities such as card playing or volunteer work for a local charity.

3. Engage in social interaction: Visit friends and extended family, take part in group outings, and attend community events.

4. Stay physically active: Gentle exercises such as walking and age-appropriate workouts can help a senior stay in solid physical, mental, and emotional shape.

5. Eat healthy: Fiber rich food such as fruit and vegetables are a must for seniors, and so are whole grains and lean protein. Minimize sugar, starch, and unhealthy fats.

6. Treat yourself to a chore or two: Meaningful responsibility is good for anyone at any age!

7. Seek professional help: Contact a mental health professional and sign up for counseling. It takes a measure of courage to do this but your bravery will pay off in the long run.

8. Keep an eye on pills: If you have been prescribed antidepressants, you should make sure you take these medications regularly and obey doctor’s orders in terms of dosage, lifestyle, and diet.

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