Holiday blues or clinical depression?

The holidays can be joyous and festive, but as families reunite tension and anxiety can rise. Mood swings and temper flare-ups could mean you have the blues, the holiday blues.

"It may have to do with not having enough money to buy gifts. It may have to do with eating too much high caloric food, not exercising, perhaps consuming too much alcohol, not sleeping enough or spending time with people that add stress to their lives," said Dr. Kashinath Yadalam, psychiatric researcher at Lake Charles Clinical Trials.

The holiday cheer can turn to holiday blues, and you're not alone.

"This is something most people go through," said Dr. Yadalam.

When the blues last past thanksgiving and Christmas, he said, that is when you have a bigger problem: depression.

"[Depression] should last for almost daily much of the time for a period of at least one month," explained Dr. Yadalam.

For high school senior Kieara Sandifur, the sad thoughts and stress started at age 13, and with her 6 brothers and sisters, family gatherings around the holidays can be a big production.

"I usually go to my aunts house and she cooks. We all listen to music and play games," said Sandifur.

With 20 family members in one place, bickering can break out.

"Sometimes they might want to fight it depends on what they came for," described Sandifur.

Though anxiety piles up this time of year, Sandifur had more than just holiday blues. Her depressed mood lasted year round.

"True clinical depression happens when you may be having the best time in your life its biological," explained Dr. Yadalam.

Sandifur is one of the nearly 19 million Americans suffering from clinical depression at any given time.

If you are feeling extra moody, sad, irritable, or apathetic this holiday season Dr. Yadalam recommends: making lists, getting enough sleep, eating in moderation, exercising, not drinking alcohol in excess, spending time with people who love you and most importantly "make time to be nice to others that's what holidays are about."

He suggests getting professional treatment if the blues last well into the new year.

For those who are already clinically depressed, Dr. Yadalam is conducting clinical trials for a new depression medication. The trials are happening at select sites around the country, including Lake Charles, and are monitored by Harvard University researchers.

To find out if you qualify to participate, call Lake Charles Clinical Trials at (337) 564-6405.

Copyright 2011 KPLC. All rights reserved.