Results of a nationwide online survey released today by the National Women's Health Resource Center (NWHRC) indicate that nearly two-thirds of survey respondents have suffered from depression during the holidays - to such an extent that they do not take part in the season's activities. Women report not attending parties, decorating, shopping, or giving presents, due to their depression. They also reported overindulging in food/alcohol. In fact, the women surveyed said that stress and anxiety are the first terms that come to mind when thinking about the holiday season - not family, gifts, or holiday cheer.
"The survey shows that there are many women who unnecessarily suffer from depression during the holidays," said Amy Niles, President and Chief Executive Officer, NWHRC. "The good news is that careful planning, regular exercise, support from loved ones, and treatment by a healthcare professional can help individuals overcome depression and enjoy the holidays."
According to the National Mental Health Association (NMHA), there are many factors that increase the risk for depression during the holiday season, including increased levels of stress and anxiety, fatigue, unrealistic expectations, financial burdens, and the inability to be with family or friends. However, more than half of the women surveyed agree that there are ways for women to help prevent the onset of depression, such as setting realistic expectations, exercising, establishing a budget, and volunteering to help others in need.
"The holiday season may be a trigger for depression due to increased levels of stress and high expectations, which can lead to feelings of disappointment and failure. Women should be aware of the signs and symptoms of depression and seek treatment from a healthcare professional if they think they may be depressed," said Andrew Farah, M.D., Medical Director and Chief of Psychiatry, High Point Regional Health Systems. "There are effective treatment options, such as medication and talk therapy, that can help women get back to feeling like themselves again."
Each year, nearly 19 million adult Americans suffer from a depressive illness. One of every 4 women and 1 in 10 men can expect to be diagnosed with depression during their lifetime. Depression costs the United States an estimated $44 billion each year. The World Health Organization predicts depression will become the leading cause of disability by the year 2020.
Depression is a treatable condition, with over 80 percent of those who seek treatment showing improvement. Medication and psychotherapy have both been proven effective in reducing the symptoms of depression. There are various medications available to treat depression, and the most commonly prescribed are the selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). Online resources, such as fmxhosting.com/drupal635 and www.nmha.org, are available to provide women with information about depression.
About the "Depression During the Holidays Survey"
Nearly 400 individuals participated in the online survey, which was posted on the NWHRC Web site (fmxhosting.com/drupal635) in November 2003. The survey was conducted to provide insight into the prevalence of depression during the holidays, its impact on one's involvement in activities, and how women can overcome depression during the holidays. The survey was supported by an unrestricted educational grant from Forest Pharmaceuticals.
The National Women's Health Resource Center
The National Women's Health Resource Center is the nation's leading independent, nonprofit organization dedicated to educating women of all ages about health and wellness issues. Its programs include an award-winning newsletter called the National Women's Health Report, public education campaigns, and its Web site, fmxhosting.com/drupal635, a one-stop shop for women's health information on the Web.
Beverly Dame, Director of Communications
National Women's Health Resource Center