SPECIAL REPORT: Beating holiday depression

SOUTHWEST LOUISIANA (KPLC) - The holiday season is known as the most wonderful time of the year, but for some, that's not the case.

But, there are resources available for those who may be going through a difficult time during the holidays.

The clock is ticking and before you know it, the sights and sounds of the holidays will be everywhere. But the holidays can be a stressful time, leaving some feeling depressed.

Scott Riviere, a 25-year veteran in the mental health profession, said the holiday blues are not uncommon.

"For a lot of people, the holidays - even though they are filled with a lot of joy and happiness - they can also be filled with some sadness and grief for others," he said.

Riviere said during this time of the year, depression can sometimes start from Seasonal Affective Disorder, or S.A.D, . which often starts in the fall and can last until the end of winter.

The lack of sunlight affects a person's mood, making them feel hopeless and sad which can lead to discouraging thoughts.

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, in 2015, about 16 million adults in the country over the age of 18 had at least one major depressive episode.

"Suicide is kind of a natural outcome to people starting to feel like their life is kind of hopeless and there's nothing they can do to change it; and when we start feeling like that, it is so important to reach out to someone. Our community has a lot mental health resources and people that are ready and available to help people during the holiday season (who) begin to feel somewhat hopeless and helpless about the future," Riviere said.

Jody Barrilleaux volunteers her time working with the group Healing After a Loved One's Suicide, or HALOS, which offers support to those who have lost a loved one by suicide. Barrilleaux's father, Kenneth Lynn Tyler, Sr., died by suicide in October of 2015.

"He was a wonderful man and the people that I am finding go through this - the ones that have actually died by suicide - are the most precious and sweetest people and they truly felt like they had no way out," she said. "Maybe with us continuing to talk openly about it, maybe someone will start talking about their feelings and maybe they will realize they were on the road to taking their own life and maybe, they will realize the pain that it will cause someone else; maybe it will help them to not do that? It's just about talking about it and just talk openly about what we are going through - the struggles we are going through."

Pastors Tim and Robin Norris from Saint Paul Lutheran Church host a grief recovery support group called GriefShare for those who have lost loved ones and are not looking forward to celebrating the holidays without them.

"There is such a thing as anticipatory grief; we are trying to help them grieve in a healthy way and to get prepared and to realize it's coming and to some extent, you're not prepared and you're never going to be prepared to lose your mother - no matter what you do," said Robin Norris. "But after the fact, we are there to support you - GriefShare is a support; it's people coming together who are going through the same thing and we are all leaning on Christ and we are also all leaning on each other,"

Riviere said by allowing some of the pressure to be taken off and not comparing yourself with what others are doing, the holidays can be a little easier to handle.

"If the holidays are the time that can be a real challenge for you, it's a good time to reconnect with coworkers or friends and family in the area or maybe, staying off social media for a few days just so you don't put that pressure on yourself to feel like you should be living your life a certain way," he said.

Riviere said  knowing that there is help available is the first step to recovery.

If you are experiencing suicidal thoughts and have no one to turn to, there's a 24-7 hotline number you can call - 1-800-273-8255.

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