By Angela Bronner, BlackVoices.com
"It's the most wonderful time of the yeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeear" -- so goes that lovely little ditty that floats from TVs and radios into your consciousness. What a joke, you think, as you are feeling quite un-wonderful, and have been feeling that way for a minute. You've been feeling down and out, sad and blue, while the rest of the world seems to be wrapped in gold, green, red, and silver.
The holidays are a time of the year charged with an electric energy, but sometimes that strong current of emotion is exactly what flips your world right upside down. Not only are holidays a break from your normal routine, but, because they are cyclical, they have the ability to bring back a lot of memories.
According to the University of Maryland Medical Center's Mental Health Website, there are several factors that contribute to the holiday blues, including: fatigue, increased stress, inability to be with family, memories of past holiday celebrations, change in diet, change in daily routines, and, "over commercialization," (or, in more plain terms, overspending and worrying about money).
Money worries, especially, can be a trigger in these times of ever increasing layoffs (many of which happen at the end of the year). So can broken routines. Vespers without your mother, New Year's Eve without your husband, or tree trimming without your ex-girlfriend – situations like these can bring about an aching loneliness during this time of the year, when everyone else seems to be coupled up or with their family.
As Rebecca Brody, the Luv Coach, notes, "The holiday season is the most difficult time for people who have lost a partner. Moving beyond the grieving happens by taking it one day at a time, and keeping yourself in touch with life around you."
But if you, or someone you love, just seems "out of it" during this time, there are ways that you can help them. The UMD has a comprehensive list of ways to fight the holiday blues but some key things to avoid include drinking excessive amounts of alcohol, dwelling on the past and spending money you don't have. To boost your mood, you can doing something for someone else, volunteer your time, and spend time with those who care about you.
"Call on your closest friends this season and ask for their support," says Coach Brody. "Push yourself to be social, even when you aren't feeling up to it. This is also a good time to journal your thoughts and feelings so that you once they are down on paper, they are less likely to take up space in your mind.
"Remember that you do not have to do this alone," she continues. "It is your choice to surround yourself with people who support you, so allow yourself to heal through love."
If you cannot seem to shake the holiday blues, please get yourself support at one of these organizations:
Find a mental health service provider in your area: http://mentalhealth.samhsa.gov/databases/
Affordable mental health resources in your area: http://findahealthcenter.hrsa.gov
If you're in crisis and need immediate help: http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/suicide-prevention/if-you-are-in-crisis-and-need-immediate-help.shtml
Mental Health & African-American Health
May is Mental Health awareness month. Mental health in the Black community is an issue that is often ignored because:
- There is a stigma in the Black community
- The mental health establishment often mistreats blacks
Terrie Williams, a high-powered publicist who has serviced Janet Jackson, wrote of her depressive breakdown in the book 'Black Pain.' At what rate do black women suffer from depression as compared to white women?
- At the same rate
- Twice the rate
- Five times the rate
In addition to depression, African-American are more likely to suffer from certain psychological disorders particular to our community, such as:
- Bipolar disorder
Getting treatment for mental health is important, as suicide is the worse result of attempting to live with an untreated illness. How high is the rate of suicide for young black men versus young white men?
- It's higher for black men
- It's the same
- It's higher for white men
In addition, black Americans are often exposed to stressors that lead to higher incidences of untreated, more severe mental health problems, such as:
- Post-traumatic stress disorder
- Job loss
- Social prejudice
With the many issues our community faces, reducing resistance to psychological treatment is of critical importance. Anti-depressant drugs may help in healing by:
- Numbing the pain of depression
- Restoring neurochemical balances in the brain
- Do they help?
What role can the black church play in mental health treatment?
- A purely positive role
- It's a mixed blessing
- There is no role for the church in mental health treatment
Therapy through professional services are important for blacks seeking mental health treatment. Yet, aside from fears and stigmas, many blacks do not receive effective professional treatment because:
- They don't have health insurance
- The medical establishment misdiagnoses African-Americans
- Both of these answers, and more
The good news is:
- There is no good news
- Black people recover at rates equal to whites with effective treatment
Mental health is an issue in our community that deserves attention and solutions. For psychological issues for ourselves and others, it is important to:
- Ignore the signals
- Create a proper treatment plan
- Wallow away in despair