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Home » Santa Clarita News » Health And Beauty » Henry Mayo Treats Clinical Depression During Holidays, Year-Around
Henry Mayo Treats Clinical Depression During Holidays, Year-Around

Henry Mayo Treats Clinical Depression During Holidays, Year-Around

Are You Depressed? Find Out Fast with Henry Mayo’s Online Screening; Get Help at the Behavioral Health Unit

By Stephen K. Peeples

For many people, the year-end holidays are joyful times to cherish always. But for many others, what they expect to be a happy season instead brings on more stress, anxiety and even depression than other times of the year.

“To those suffering depression, the holidays can be a very difficult,” said Arjun Reyes, MD, medical director of Henry Mayo Newhall Memorial Hospital’s Behavioral Health Unit. “During winter months, people tend to be more depressed.

“Financial pressures, unwanted guests, reminders of past losses, and generally a more hectic schedule can trigger depression,” he said.

Reyes suggested a few things people can do to avoid or reduce depression.

“Try to connect with family and friends more,” he said. “Exercise is very helpful, as is eating in moderation. Try to stay positive and take it one moment at a time.”

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Unmet expectations can also trigger depression, especially during the holidays, when expectations for others and ourselves can be especially high. A big letdown can swing a mood from joyful to depressed in an instant.

“Don’t let the expectations of the holidays ruin your holiday,” said Mike Dougherty, the hospital’s community relations representative. “When the holidays come along, you have to say, ‘I’m going to do this, I’m going to do that, that’s reasonable, I’d like to get together with my friends,’ and do that.

“Then, when you’re dealing with those other things like the loss of a loved one, try to remember the good times,” said Dougherty, speaking from first-hand experience. He lost a grown son this past year, but knows dwelling on the loss only compounds the pain.

“And for goodness’ sake, don’t turn to self-medicating with drugs and alcohol,” he said. “That’s just going to make it worse, and it’s going to destroy your holiday.”

Henry Mayo’s Behavioral Health Unit Never Closes

Reyes and Dougherty both urged local residents suffering from any kind of depression to reach out and get help at Henry Mayo’s Behavioral Health Unit, just a phone call away at 661-253-8326.

The caring doctors and nurses at the 23-bed acute psychiatric facility provide confidential advice or treatment to anyone suffering from major or clinical depression or other mental health disorders anytime, 24/7, all year around.

“Clinical depression is the No. 1 reason we see people at Henry Mayo’s Behavioral Health Unit on a year-around basis,” Dougherty said.

“We do see a little increase in depression patients during the holidays, but most people just try to deal with it themselves,” he said. “And that makes it even harder, because some can’t. It’s not always something they can fix themselves.”

What is Depression, Who’s Depressed, and Why?

Could Pinetop Sparks’ 1935 classic “Every Day I Have the Blues” be your theme song because you’ve been unhappy longer than a couple of weeks?

Have you been unable to just “snap out of it!” in your usual mind-over-mood fashion, and carry on no matter how off-kilter you felt

Your problem may be deeper than the occasional blues most of us feel for a day or two.

Depression triggers vary from person to person, but as Reyes noted can include feeling overwhelmed by trouble with finances and health, as well as relationships, school grades or classmates; stress from problems in the workplace; dwelling on the death of a loved one.

Some people take the world on their shoulders and worry obsessively about things over which they have no control.

Mental illnesses like schizophrenia may also cause or exacerbate depression.

The good news: Nearly eight out of 10 patients with depressive illness will improve through treatment with medicine and psychotherapy, according to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.

According to the AFSP, depression is present if at least five or more of the following symptoms are present during a two-week period; at least one of the symptoms must be either depressed mood or loss of interest or pleasure in usual activities:

  • Depressed mood
  • Loss of interest or pleasure in usual activities
  • Change in appetite or weight
  • Change in sleeping patterns
  • Speaking and/or moving with unusual speed or slowness
  • Decrease in sexual drive
  • Fatigue or loss of energy
  • Feelings of worthlessness, self-reproach or guilt
  • Diminished ability to think or concentrate, slowed thinking or indecisiveness
  • Thoughts of death, suicide, or wishes to be dead

 More Symptoms of Clinical Depression

  • Anxiety, agitation, or enraged behavior
  • Isolation
  • Drug and/or alcohol use or abuse
  • History of physical or emotional illness
  • Feelings of hopelessness or desperation

More Facts about Depression

  • Women suffer from depression twice as much as men. This two-to-one ratio exists regardless of racial and ethnic background or economic status.
  • Depression in people 65 and older increases the risk of stroke and other medical complications.
  • The economic cost of depressive illnesses is $30 million to $44 billion a year.
  • More Americans (24 million) suffer from depression than coronary heart disease (17
  • million), cancer (12 million) and HIV/AIDS (1 million).
  • Even though effective treatments are available, only one in three depressed people gets help.

Depression and Suicide

  • Although most depressed people are not suicidal, two-thirds of those who die by suicide suffer from a depressive illness.
  • About 15 percent of the population will suffer from depression at some time during their life. Thirty percent of all depressed hospital inpatients attempt suicide.

RELATED: Suicide: A Permanent Solution To A Temporary Problem

Medical Illness and Depression

  • Researchers believe that after an initial attack of severe depression 70 percent of people are vulnerable to another episode.
  • The following illnesses are commonly associated with later-life depression: cancer, Parkinson’s disease, heart disease, stroke and Alzheimer’s disease.
  • Research shows that depression and heart disease often accompany each other and that each can lead to the other. While roughly one in six people have an episode of major depression, the number goes to one in two for people with heart disease.
  • About 25 percent of cancer patients suffer from clinical depression.
  • Depression in people 65 and older increases the risk of stroke and other medical complications.

WHO: Depression is World’s Leading Cause of Disability

Citing the American Psychiatric Association, Centers for Disease Control’s National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey in 2005-2006 (the most recent survey reported by the CDC) characterizes depression as “changes in mood, self-attitude, cognitive functioning, sleep, appetite and energy level.”

“Depression causes suffering, decreases quality of life, and causes impairment in social and occupational functioning,” the CDC survey reports. “It is associated with increased health care costs as well as with higher rates of many chronic medical conditions.”

If you’re depressed, you have lots of company, if that’s any further consolation.

According to the CDC survey, the World Health Organization points to depression as the leading cause of disability worldwide.

More than 1 in 20 Americans Suffer Depression

The CDC survey found more than one in 20 Americans 12 years and older was depressed.

Rates were higher among people ages 40-55, women and non-Hispanic black persons than in other demographic groups. More than one in seven Americans living below the poverty line had depression.

Among people with depression, 80 percent reported some level of functional impairment, and in many areas of life. Of those, 27 percent said their depression was causing serious problems at home or work.

Fewer Than Half with Depression Reach Out from the Darkness

Again, while depression may be common and sometimes debilitating, it’s treatable through counseling or talk therapy, anti-depressant drugs, and/or lifestyle and dietary changes.

But for one reason or another – lack of awareness, denial, fear of stigma, no health insurance or lack of money – fewer than a third of people with depression had reached out to a mental health professional in the previous year, the CDC survey showed.

Even among the subset with severe depression, only 39 percent reported seeking professional help.

Bottom line: Fewer than half the people who need help for depression are getting it, the CDC survey showed.

How Can You Tell if You’re Depressed? Try Henry Mayo’s Free Online Test

If any of the aforementioned symptoms rings a bell, and you want to get a reading on your level of depression, Henry Mayo has a simple online screening for depression and related conditions. The screening is easy, takes five minutes or less and is completely confidential.

Here’s the link:

Depending on your answers to the simple yes-no questions about your symptoms, you may get relevant pop-up messages. At the end, if your symptoms appear severe, the screening notifies you that you may be clinically depressed. Then it provides links to local resources where you can talk with someone qualified about getting professional help.

If you’re depressed to the point you’re thinking about hurting yourself, or others, you’ll be prompted to call 911 or go to the nearest ER.

How Treatment Can Help Most Depression Patients

If your symptoms aren’t that severe, you may want to start with your medical doctor. It’s possible a chemical imbalance is causing you to feel depressed. If not, your doctor may refer you to a clinical psychotherapist for treatment.

If they diagnose clinical depression, your doctor and/or therapist will first work to help you get through whatever the immediate crisis might be. This may be accomplished through “talk” therapy, anti-depressant medication, changes in diet (like less sugar and caffeine), and exercise habits (more movement, more often), or some combination of the three protocols.

Once you’re stabilized, recovery begins, as you and your doctors try to identify and address the root causes of the depression. Those could range from the physical (a debilitating and/or terminal disease) to the mental (such as lack of self-esteem, guilt or self-loathing, in turn usually caused by something deeper).

Face Up to Depression, and Do Something About it

No matter how severe your depression is, Reyes and Dougherty both underscored the importance of doing something to get help, rather than hiding in bed so you don’t have to face it, or self-medicating in an effort to kill the pain.

“People can talk with family members, a friend, a pastor,” Dougherty said. “Seniors here in Santa Clarita can get help at the SCV Senior Center. You can always call us, and there are other therapists available in town, as well. It’s so important for people to reach out for help, and not to just stay to themselves.”

Call the Behavioral Health Unit at 661-253-8326 or visit for more information.

Do you have a news tip? Call us at (661) 298-1220, or drop us a line at

Source: Santa Clarita News

Henry Mayo Treats Clinical Depression During Holidays, Year-Around

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