Holiday Stress Linked to More Serious Conditions

Armen Hareyan's picture
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(NC)-Although most of us look forward to the holiday season, it can also be a period of great stress. "The holidays are a stress roller coaster," says Dr. Richard Earle, psychologist and Managing Director of the Canadian Institute of Stress. "Family pressures, social obligations, financial worries and sky-high expectations can take their toll on our mental well being at this time of year."

In particular, for the estimated one-in-ten Canadians who suffer from clinical anxiety and depression, the holidays can be the saddest and most stressful time of year. Those are the people Dr. Earle wants to see get professional help. "If you're feeling consistently sad on most days, or find you've lost all interest in events you once enjoyed, like the holidays, then you may be experiencing depression," says Dr. Earle. Symptoms of anxiety disorder include overwhelming worry, often accompanied by tension, restlessness and a persistent feeling of being 'on edge'. Other symptoms, such as changes in sleep patterns and difficulty concentrating, may be hallmarks of both conditions.

Certainly it's normal to feel stress, even disappointment, during this hectic and emotional time of year. But Dr. Earle cautions that it is not normal to feel sad or anxious all the time. "Depression and anxiety are serious medical illnesses that require appropriate treatment," he says.

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The good news is, various therapies have proven to be highly effective in treating both conditions. "Medications that affect both serotonin and norepinephrine levels in the brain, such as Effexor XR, have been shown to be highly effective in reducing symptoms of depression and anxiety," says Dr. Earle. He also recommends patients participate in some form of talk therapy to help them develop coping strategies and new ways of looking at their problems.

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More information on the treatment of depression and anxiety can be found at www.mypeaceofmind.ca

- News Canada

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