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For a lot of people, holidays are the highlight of the year, culminating in reunions, the warmth of family and friends, and opportunities for expressions of love and gratitude. For others, it can be an incredibly depressing time. Loneliness is the cause of increased hospital emergency visits and suicide attempts or episodes of self-harm.
“For those who have no support system, no friends, family, loved ones or even coworkers, the holidays can prove very deadly. Everywhere, there are signs of gatherings, gift exchanges, happiness and love. If you are not experiencing what the rest of the world is enjoying, it is very bitter,” according to Mark DeSilva, MD, Medical Director, Emergency Department, Gottlieb Memorial Hospital.
DeSilva should know; he has worked in Emergency Rooms for 12 years. “The holidays bring out desperate behavior in unstable individuals and they frequently end up in the ED as a medical emergency.”
DeSilva has created four tips to help identify people at-risk during the holidays.
- Angry mood. If a person is pessimistic and bitter, especially about other people’s happiness.
- Alcohol or drug excess. This may indicate and escape from reality.
- Missing social activities. Participating in joyous activities can be overwhelming for a depressed person. Watch for those who isolate themselves.
- Excessive sleeping. Another form of escapism. Depression can be physically draining.
If you see these signs in a friend or family member, talk to him or her and offer help. The downturn in the economy has taken a toll on many families. By recognizing a person in trouble, you could save a life, or at the very least, improve their holiday season with a show of kindness and friendship.
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