By: Sheila McKenzie-Barnswell B.Sc.. R.D.H., R.N.C.

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, each day, approximately one in seven individuals experience some form of depression. Depression is characterized by such feelings as guilt, hopelessness, self-recrimination and dejection. Some symptoms of depression are loss of appetite in some individuals or over eating in others, insomnia, low sex drive, reduced interest in doing previous enjoyable activities, withdrawal from friends and family, inability to concentrate and make decisions, low self-esteem and focus on negative thoughts and all that's wrong with life on a whole. If you say good morning to a depressed person, he would probably say what's good about it?

One of the major causes of depression is the loss of love and companionship. Another reason is constant destructive criticism, from parents, teachers, friends or family members. People also feel they are a failure if they experience failure at something that they wanted very much to succeed in. Dwelling on failure leads to depression. People feel depression when they are lonely, which brings me to the point of why I wrote this editorial on depression. It is a fact that most suicides occur around the holiday season because during the holiday season the feelings of a lonely person intensify. It is a time of year when most people try to surround themselves with friends and family and have lots of enjoyment. A time of year when individuals who are most in need of our love and companionship can get overlooked in the shuffle. This holiday season, when you make your shopping list for gift giving, please make a list also of past friends or family members that you have not heard from in a while and give him/her a call, and parents what are we doing about our street children? please make it a part of your responsibility to try and contact your children. We might have disagreements with our children or other loved ones over the year but remember that money cannot buy the gift of love. So please join with me and give these individuals a call. Who knows, you might just save a life!

My advice to individuals who are depressed is you need not suffer in silence for fear of being labeled "crazy". Try to reach out to your family and friends for they can provide you with comfort and advice. If you don't feel like reaching out to family or friends try your clergyman, counselor, psychotherapist or physician. In talking to these professionals you can regain new perspectives on your problem and come to a workable solution. A good benefit in talking to a professional is the release of a great deal of emotion that you have bottled up for a long time. Cry, shout, or bang on a table if you feel like it. Last but not least, try the nutrition approach. Deficiency in vitamin B intake can sometimes bring about a low stress tolerance and lead to depression. Everything that you put into your body can affect your mental state. Alcohol, marijuana, tranquilizers, caffeine, nicotine. Keep toxic substances out of the body. Also stay away from sugar; it robs your body of B-vitamins.

During the holiday season, let us concentrate on keeping the body in the same state of wellness as throughout the year. Let us have a healthy body and mind  - a harmonious place for our soul to live in.

Best wishes and wellness for the New Year.

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