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For many, the holidays can bring something other than cheer

Anthony Tran/Unsplash

Thanksgiving’s next week, quickly followed by Hanukkah, Christmas, and New Year’s, so practice your "Happy Holidays."

For most of us, the season can be the most wonderful time of the year, but others find it the most difficult time of the year to cope.

About 20 percent of Americans struggle during the fall and winter months, with about 5 percent of people developing seasonal affective disorder in winter, when less sunlight can promote depression and fatigue.

“Seasonal affective disorder has a lot of similarities to depression,” said Las Vegas marriage and family therapist Donna Wilburn. “Unmotivated even to do stuff that you enjoy.”

Wilburn told State of Nevada that symptoms can worsen at this time of year whether someone suffers from seasonal affective disorder, depression, or another mental health challenge.

“There is research that shows this time of year is really challenging for all of those disorders,” she said, noting that pandemic isolation during the holidays and family gatherings can both add to emotional stress.

Wilburn, who said those who feel out of sorts for several days should consult a medical professional, offered these tips to beat a less-serious case of the holiday blues:

• Avoid negative self-talk: “If you catch yourself going down a negative thought process … replace it with a more positive thought process.”

• Exercise: “Even if it's five minutes or 10 minutes, (light exercise) can get that blood flowing and get oxygen to your brain.”

• Take a walk: “Not only are you doing some cardio, which really helps those brain chemicals, but you are also getting outside” and sunlight can help brighten one’s mood.

​Donna Wilburn, therapist

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Lorraine Blanco Moss is the host of KNPR's award-winning Asian American Pacific Islander podcast, Exit Spring Mountain. She's also a producer for State of Nevada, specializing in food and hospitality, women's issues, and sports. She started at Nevada Public Radio in October 2021.