Well it’s that time of year again when the sleigh bells are jingling and we should be easing into the end of the year where everything is snowy and cozy.

We’re feeling that Joy to the World, but 2016 has been a pretty stressful year. Now we have a little break where we can be jolly while combat shopping, consuming mass quantities of food, drinking way too much and arguing about the election with our tin-foil-hat-wearing uncle who keeps emphasizing his point with the end of a  turkey leg.

That’s the holidays in a nutshell; the best of times; the worst of times.

While it can be the most wonderful time of year for many of us, it can be a tough time for the millions of people who suffer from clinical depression. All that jollity can bring their illness to the fore.

Depression is an illness, make no mistake. Simply telling a depressed person to cheer up isn’t going to solve anything. It involves brain chemistry, not attitude. With chronic depression we’re talking about more than just being down in the dumps or having the blues because of a momentary setback.

Major depressive disorder can lessen your ability to work, sleep, eat, and enjoy your favorite activities. If you find yourself feeling that way, don’t be shy, see your doctor for help. Remember, it’s never a sign of weakness to seek medical help.

There should be no stigma attached to getting help for mental illness. Doctors and therapists have tools that can help. If you are already getting treatment, you need to have good communication with your health care providers. Never stop taking or change the way you take your medications without first talking to your doctor.

Even if you are not suffering from clinical depression, holiday stress can still get in the way of your enjoyment of the season.

There are plenty of things you can do to take in more of the holiday cheer and less of the holiday stress:

• Lower your expectations. So what if your family isn’t straight out of a Norman Rockwell painting. Get over it and enjoy what you’ve got. Remember, those paintings are imaginary.
• Change it up; Call Uber, take the family a restaurant for a holiday meal, relax and enjoy yourselves.
• Practice a little moderation. Don’t eat yourself into a coma and take it easy on the alcohol.
• Don’t let cabin fever set in. Get out and get some exercise, or if that’s not possible, do some indoor calisthenics.
• Avoid situations that cause stress. Better to send regrets than to show up for functions that don’t agree with you.

And the most important tip of all to feel good during the holidays: Take a deep breath, relax and take time to enjoy yourself.

Wishing you Happy Holidays and a Wonderful New Year from the Good Doctor

Be safe. Be healthy. Be good to yourself.