December is Seasonal Affective Disorder Awareness Month

According to a National Alliance on Mental Illness study, up to 20 percent of Americans suffer from some type of depression.

“The holidays can be a difficult time of year for many who have lost loved ones or are unable to be together, and it can be especially hard on seniors,” said Dr. Casey Hanna, a physician with GlobalHealth based in Oklahoma.

Know the signs. Seasonal depression can be characterized by feelings of hopelessness, lethargy, fatigue, insomnia, difficulty concentrating or performing daily tasks and changes in appetite. Symptoms are more likely to be present in seniors because they are often likely to live alone.

Depression is not a normal part of aging. Clinical depression is much more than simply “feeling blue.” Depression triggered by the holidays can be dangerous, especially for seniors.

Help your loved one seek treatment. If you think a senior loved one is suffering from some form of depression, help them seek a physician. Light therapy can be a big help at this time of year.

A study the American Osteopathic Association conducted states more than 30 percent of nursing home residents suffer from some form of depression, even though less than half of those people have depression listed in their medical records.

Reach out your loved ones during the holidays, especially the elderly. They’ll be happy you took the time to be there for them and help them keep a healthier outlook on life.