Holidays don't bring cheer to everyone
December 23, 1998
NEW YORK (CNN) -- Millons of people find it difficult to make it through this time of year, despite -- and sometimes because of -- all the holiday cheer.
"The problem with the holidays is that we have mass high expectations and therefore, for many people, mass disappointment," says clinical psychologist Dr. Dorothy Cantor.
And mass disappointment can trigger depression. Especially for someone like Barbara Cattaneo, who already suffers from clinical depression. This holiday season is turning out to be especially tough for her.
"My mother died in February, so this is a new set of holidays for me without any family," she says. "Emotionally, it's feeling the emptiness, the fact that things will never be quite the same."
Depression is an illness that is often misunderstood. Factor in the holidays, when we're all supposed to feel so happy, and a bout can be especially tough.
"Always having to have that smile on your face when you're in public, instead of being able to say, 'You know, today I feel real terrible,'" she explains.
Experts say depression is not a choice -- it is a medical condition.
"That's the old stigma," Cantor says. "If you have emotional problems, you're weak ... You shouldn't equate emotional problems with weakness."
But there are ways to get through the holidays and survive a difficult depression. Experts say the best strategy is to be proactive, but set reasonable expectations.
Set your own pace; recognize that you're feeling different and do something about it. And seek out help in the form of a psychologist, psychiatrist or a support group.
"Those people there are nonjudgmental -- they're there to pick you up and help you," Cattaneo says. "They're there to lend a hand when you need it, and a shoulder.
If you're overwhelmed, remember to take it slowly.
"That's how I'm really taking life now," she says. It's really one step at a time, one day at a time."
Back to the top
© 2000 Cable News Network. All Rights Reserved.
Terms under which this service is provided to you.
Read our privacy guidelines.