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Cornelius News

Need help around Blue Christmas? Find it here

About 30 percent of the population experience Blue Christmas, a season of sadness, feeling alone and depression.

Dec. 12. For most, the holidays are a joyful time, but others experience anxiety, loneliness or depression.

Dr. Obi Ikwechegh

There are several reasons why people may struggle,  Dr. Obi Ikwechegh, of Novant Health Psychiatric Medicine, said in a Novant Health | Healthy Headlines article. In his practice, he’s seen patients with difficult childhoods who have experienced bad Christmas seasons and now dread the holidays.

“For another group, it’s a yearly anniversary reaction,” Ikwechegh said. “If a person has lost a mom, dad, or significant other during the holidays, they’ll feel blue and not necessarily know why they feel so badly during the holidays years later.”   

Blue Christmas

Many churches recognize this and hold Blue Christmas services this month. A Blue Christmas Service makes room for sadness, loneliness, or loss during the holidays.

Its origin is unclear although it may have originated among hospice centers in Canada. It became popular in the United Methodist Church denomination, and some Catholic congregations had their own version of Blue Christmas masses as well.

Blue Christmas services that are scheduled include:

7 pm | Dec. 12. Community in Christ Lutheran Church, 7621 Norman Island Drive, Cornelius.

7 pm | Dec. 13. Inclusion Community, The Hut (Cornelius Presbyterian Church), parking lot, 21209 Catawba Ave.

3  pm | Dec. 18. Davidson College Presbyterian Church, 100 N. Main St.,  Davidson. 

4-5 pm | Dec. 18. Mt. Zion United Methodist Church,  19600 Zion Ave., Cornelius.

7 pm | Dec. 18. Davidson United Methodist Church, 233 South Main St., Davidson.

What you can do

Ikwechegh has this advice if you are alone during the holidays.

Take action. “One can replace the trappings of Christmas with something else that they very much enjoy. Plan on a cruise at Christmas, watch a Star Wars marathon or some other series that you like with a bucket of popcorn, plan on an activity with a friend who is also alone over the holidays.”

Watch out for SAD. For some, the holiday blues are caused by seasonal affective disorder , a common type of depression that occurs every year as days shorten in the winter. In most patients, it can be treated with an adjustment in medication and light therapy,  Ikwechegh said.

“Seasonal affective disorder is a real thing,”  Ikwechegh said. “Many people have SAD and don’t realize it.”           

Signs of the disorder include experiencing depression and being unable to function every winter. “If you’re unable to get out of bed and go to work or school or are unable to meet your social obligations specifically during the winter months, you may have seasonal affective disorder.”

Consider treatment. People who are unable to function in daily life or realize their depression is brought on by triggers such as prolonged grief would benefit from seeing a specialist that could provide treatment for them with medication and or psychotherapy.

—Find a support group. Ikwechegh said there are support groups for people with SAD or people who need help coping with the loss of a loved one. “People in your group with the assistance from the group facilitator can exchange ideas with you and provide suggestions for forward movement when you are depressed and have difficulty thinking through things on your own.”

—Fight back. The doctor’s best advice if you know you suffer from mild depression during the holidays: have a plan. “Plan a vacation, go visit a friend out of state, reach out to loved ones, don’t wait for the bad feelings to surround you.”