Don't let depression get the better of you this holiday season. If you live in the Baltimore area and are in need of psychiatric care, the University of Maryland Medical System recently opened two new facilities in Southwest Baltimore that offer a variety of mental health services.
In an effort to improve and expand their services, The Harbor City Unlimited rehabilitation program and the Carruthers Clinic have relocated their headquarters.Harbor City Unlimited, which provides services to those with bipolar disorder, schizophrenia and clinical depression, has just moved into a newly renovated building at 1227 West Pratt Street. The Carruthers Clinic, which offers family and marital counseling, individual therapy, psychiatric assessment and consultation and help with medication management, has moved to a new Federal Hill location at 122 Weber Street.
For more information, call Harbor City Unlimited at 410-328-2177 or the Carruthers Clinic at 410-328-2292.
Reduce the Stress
The holidays can be a stressful time for many of us because of family expectations, holiday shopping, parties and trying to please everyone. Hinda F. Dubin, M.D., a clinical assistant professor of psychiatry at the University of Maryland School of Medicine and psychiatrist at the University of Maryland Medical Center, suggests that people be honest with themselves about what they can do during the holiday season. "Set realistic goals," Dr. Dubin says. "If your holiday plans require you to run around shopping and go to parties until you are exhausted, and you stay up all night to wrap presents, your plans aren't very realistic. You need to pace yourself and get enough rest."
Dr. Dubin offers these suggestions for reducing stress during the holiday season:
The Change of Season Can Affect Your Mood
The "winter blues" or feeling sad or depressed during the fall and winter may be caused by Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), according to Mitchel A. Kling, M.D., an associate professor of psychiatry and medicine at the University of Maryland School of Medicine. He says it is brought on by decreasing amounts of daylight during the fall and winter. Seasonal Affective Disorder can occur on its own, or can make symptoms of depression stronger. The good news, according to Dr. Kling, is that sufferers can often be helped by treatment with special bright lights that can be prescribed by their doctor. He adds that this therapy is often reimbursed, at least in part, by health insurance plans. "We find that often, depression attributed to the holidays actually can be a manifestation of seasonal depression," says Dr. Kling, who is also the medical director of the Mood Disorders Program at the Baltimore VA Medical Center.
Tips on How to Deal with Depression During the Holidays
The holidays can be a stressful time, and too much or certain kinds of stress can bring on symptoms of depression and other mood disorders in those who are susceptible. That's according to Mitchel Kling, M.D., an associate professor of psychiatry and medicine at the University of Maryland School of Medicine and medical director of the Mood Disorders Program at the Baltimore VA Medical Center. He says mild or temporary symptoms of depressed mood, sadness, or fatigue do not usually require professional attention. "However, if symptoms continue for two to four weeks or longer, it is very important to seek professional help," says Dr. Kling. He adds that people often drink more alcohol than usual during the holiday season to help them cope with stress, but that can increase symptoms of depression and not help alleviate the stress.
The following is a list of symptoms of depression from the National Institute of Mental Health. It is recommended that people who experience five or more of these symptoms seek professional help:
Expert Offers Advice on How to Cope with Grief During the Holidays
The holiday season is especially difficult for people who have recently lost a loved one, and this year will be especially hard for those affected by the tragic events of September 11th. "People who are dealing with grief or illness need to decide what holiday expectations are right for them this year," says Contance A. Noll, M.A., R.N., a patient care services manager in Adult Psychiatry at the University of Maryland Medical Center. She recommends that individuals do what they are comfortable doing and set limits, if necessary. Noll, who is also a mental health specialist at the University of Maryland School of Medicine's Department of Psychiatry, also advises communicating with loved ones, those who are most important to you, and those who give you support and positive feelings. "Most of all, she says, "let yourself grieve. It's very, very normal."
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