COLUMN: Managing depression during and after the holiday season

— Studies show that depression tends to increase either during the holidays or in the weeks following the holidays. I wanted to remind you of the signs of depression and help you be able to recognize its symptoms, and where to go for help.

Depression is a mental illness. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention defines depression as characterized by depressed or sad mood, diminished interest in activities which used to be pleasurable, weight gain or loss, psychomotor agitation or retardation, fatigue, inappropriate guilt, difficulties concentrating, as well as recurrent thoughts of death. It can adversely affect the course and outcome of common chronic conditions, such as arthritis, asthma, cardiovascular disease, cancer, diabetes and obesity.

The rate of major depression in New York is between 7 and 8 percent. Mood disorders are among the most pervasive of all mental disorders and include major depression, in which the individual commonly reports feeling sad or blue for a period of two weeks or more, uninterested in things previously of interest, psychomotor retardation or agitation, and increased or decreased appetite since the depressive episode ensued. It’s important to know the signs for yourself and for family members.

Learn more about local services by visiting the National Alliance of Mental Illness at nami.org. NAMI connects people with other individuals or families who offer help and support. An administrator can be reached at 487-2085 or email them at namisyracuse@namisyracuse.org. You may also call your primary care physician for a referral for mental health services. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline can be called at any time of the day at 1-800-273-8255.

Assemblyman Will Barclay represents residents of Assembly District 120, which includes Lysander. He can be reached by mail at 200 North Second St., Fulton, NY 13069, by e-mail at barclaw@assembly.state.ny.us or by phone (598-5185).

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