FORT RUCKER, Ala. -- The holidays are a time of year people attempt to create the perfect dinner, the perfect party and find the perfect gift, but often perfection is hard to find.

"Keep your expectations of the holidays reasonable," advised Belinda Jellison, Lyster Army Health Clinic licensed professional counselor.

Jellison explained that people often have ideas of how the holidays are supposed to go, but when things don't go as well as they planned, they feel stress. People should keep their expectations of Family members and holiday events realistic.

"(People may think)their holiday meal or party has to be absolutely perfect, and if it doesn't meet that standard it can ruin the whole holiday," she said.

Depression can also stem from holiday stress, according to Walter Reed Army Medical Center. Depression is a continuing feeling of sadness, despondency or hopelessness. One out of every 10 Americans experience major depression. It affects both sexes, but is more common in women.
"Some of the key signs of depression are having a 'blue mood,' frequent crying, trouble sleeping, irritability, lack of energy, lack of drive and loss of interest in activities," Jellison said.

Depression can get more severe if it is not recognized, and might lead to suicide and substance abuse.

There is a direct link between depression and suicide according to Walter Reed Army Medical Center.

The center has released some signs that may indicate a suicidal person:

Watch for people withdrawing from friends and Family; neglecting personal appearance; and mentioning wanting "to end it all" or being "a burden to others." Also look for evidence of a suicide plan; sudden cheerfulness after prolonged despondency; hallucinations or psychotic behavior; and manic behavior characterized by inappropriate over-activity and comic or irresponsible behavior.

Anxiety is another problem that rises from holiday stress, said Jellison. Expectations, being away from Family, deployments and many other factors lead to anxiety.

Walter Reed Army Medical Center defines anxiety as a vague, uncomfortable feeling of fear, dread or danger from an unknown source. For some it may be a one-time episode - other people become constantly anxious about everything.

A certain amount of anxiety is normal, and helps improve performance and allows people to avoid dangerous situations, but constant unfounded anxiety is a problem, according to Walter Reed Army Medical Center.

If you notice any of these symptoms in yourself or loved ones, Behavioral Medicine staff at Lyster Army Health Clinic is available through the holidays. It can be reached at 255-7028. People seeking help can also contact their chaplain or visit armyonesource.com. Help from Army One Source can be reached at 800-342-9647 and the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is 800-273-TALK.

Page last updated Thu December 9th, 2010 at 09:33