December is often a time of togetherness, when we spend time with family, friends, and loved ones. There are usually many large gatherings and social events to attend. But this year, gathering together is exactly what we are being told not to do. Coronavirus cases are at an all-time high in the US, and they continue to climb every day. Part of this is due to families celebrating Thanksgiving together without following social distancing guidelines. Now that there are more holidays approaching, we are forced to reconsider our traditional plans for celebrating.
The holidays can be a difficult time of year for many people, for numerous reasons. This year it is even harder as we are unable to be close to others. Many people have been struggling with loneliness and depression for months due to isolation from the pandemic. These feelings may be intensified as we feel a sense of loss of the joy and fellowship that normally occur this time of year. There is disappointment for ourselves and others as we weigh the importance of gathering versus the risks to everyone’s safety.
As we struggle to make our way through these adverse times, we may experience a myriad of emotions: sadness about not getting to spend as much time with others; anxiety about the health and safety of ourselves and loved ones; stress about making the right decisions and trying to find new ways to make celebrations special; anger or frustration about the changes and the choices that others are making; disappointment with the current state of events; and general dissatisfaction with life. While these are all perfectly normal feelings, it is important to be aware of when our unhappiness becomes so extreme that it interferes with our everyday functioning. There is a point where feeling sad or worried becomes depression or anxiety. And that is when it is time to get help.
We also need to be aware of those around us who may be in need of help, especially children and teens. Younger children may have difficulty understanding the changes caused by the pandemic, while teens may face disappointment with knowing the special events in their lives that they are missing. They may express their struggles differently from adults. Watch for behavior changes that might indicate depression or anxiety. This could include changes in eating or sleeping habits, difficulty with attention, increased disruptive behaviors, avoidance of previously enjoyable activities, or even regressing to behaviors that had been outgrown. As with adults, it is important to distinguish sadness and moodiness from a mental health issue. Children and adolescents may not be able to identify and work through their feelings and may need extra support.
It is important to take care of both your physical and mental health. Whether you have a history of anxiety or depression or you are experiencing it for the first time, if these feelings are disrupting your life, then you should seek help from a professional. Therapy can help in many ways, including teaching coping strategies and helping you deal with and work through your emotions. There are many different types of therapy, so when looking for a therapist you can ask about their methods to find a strategy that can help you meet your needs. Many practices are now offering teletherapy, so they can reach out to clients virtually and safely.
At Mindful Assessments & Psychological Services, we recognize the increased need for counseling and we have added a new staff member, Dr. Yea Seul Pyun, to provide therapy for clients of all ages. We are here to help you through this difficult time and are offering therapy both in person and virtually. Dr. Pyun is able to offer support for individuals of all ages experiencing depression or anxiety as well as children with developmental disorders and their parents. Contact us to learn more about how Mindful Assessments & Psychological Services can help you get through this difficult time.