Holiday blues: What they are, how to fight them
By Airman 1st Class Rebecca Van Syoc, 7th Bomb Wing Public Affairs
/ Published December 22, 2016
DYESS AIR FORCE BASE, Texas -- The winter and holiday season can create a wide variety of feelings in people: such as joy, warmth and generosity. While the holidays are celebrated by some as a time of giving and cheer, it can bring feelings of loneliness and depression in others.
For some Airmen, especially those who are spending the holiday season away from family and friends, these feelings have the possibly of negatively impacting their work and personal life; this condition is known as holiday depression.
“Holiday depression occurs when people feel the anxiety and stress during the months of November and December,” said Staff Sgt. Adam Crockett, 7th Medical Operations Squadron mental health technician. “Even though the holidays are supposed to be a happy time, for some, it is a time of anxiety and loneliness. Many are away from their families or stressed due to financial concerns and interpersonal issues.”
Though depression can’t be passed from one to another like the flu, there are some Airmen who are more at risk for experiencing it, Crockett said.
“Airmen without family or other social support systems are the most at risk,” Crockett said. “Those who socially isolate themselves, whether by choice or external circumstance, are more prone to feel ‘down’ during the holiday season. These individuals may see other people spending time with friends and family and ask themselves, ‘Why can't that be me?’ or ‘Why is everyone else so much happier than I am?’"
According to the base chapel, holiday depression is most prevalent in Airmen who are unable to go home for the holiday season or those who have experienced recent major life change. To ensure Airmen are taken care of, there are many avenues and resources available for them.
“Chaplains, mental health and military family life counselors are excellent resources if someone is having a difficult time,” said Maj. Martin Booth, 7th Bomb Wing chaplain. “Going to the Soul Fire Café, bowling alley and hangar center can also help, as it gets Airmen out of the dorms to interact and connect with others.”
Airmen are also encouraged to utilize the four domains of Comprehensive Airmen Fitness in dealing with personal hardships such as holiday depression. These domains include physical, mental, spiritual and social forms of improving personal resiliency.
According to the base chapel staff, some things that can help Airmen in times of stress include attending worship services, attending local and base events and activities, finding a good workout routine or trying out new hobbies.
Though Airmen have personal resources and tools to help themselves, Booth said he believes it is important for others to help.
“If someone notices that a friend is acting differently, or shying away from activities they’re normally passionate about, they should get involved and see what they can do to help,” Booth said. “Invite that Airman into your house, go out somewhere with them—putting ourselves in motion to help others is often therapeutic for both.”
This year the motto from the Defense National Suicide Prevention Office is, “#BeThere.” The prevention office states that the help doesn’t have to be complicated or extensive, but what matters the most is offering a listening ear or simply the presence of a person who cares about them.
Airmen who are experiencing difficulties and needing help are encouraged to call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255), Mental Health at (325) 696-5380 or the Chapel at (325) 696-4224 (after-hours access to the Chapel staff can be reached through Base Operations at (325) 696-1921).