Holiday season brings challenges for many
by Matt Shinall
Dec 26, 2012 | 1425 views | 0 0 comments | 5 5 recommendations | email to a friend | print
As the holiday season comes to a close, many Americans are left feeling less than festive. For some, it may be a passing emotion, but for others holiday gatherings, family traditions and short winter days serve to compound an underlying condition.

Continued symptoms of depression, including a sad mood, loss of interest in pleasurable activities, difficulty concentrating, fatigue and inappropriate guilt may be a sign of depression.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than one out of 20 Americans 12 years or older reported suffering from depression in a 2006 study.

“Depression poses a substantial burden globally — and to the individual suffering from this disorder,” states the CDC website. “As research has found that interpersonal relationships are particularly likely to suffer when someone is depressed, data suggest that few families or networks of friends are likely to remain unaffected by depression.

“The urgency of the rate of depression to public health is likely compounded by the recognition that — if not effectively treated — depression is likely to lapse into a chronic disease. Just experiencing one episode of depression places the individual at a 50 percent risk for experiencing another, with subsequent episodes raising the likelihood of experiencing more episodes in the future.”

In addition to clinical depression, symptoms may reveal any number of conditions on a spectrum of affective disorders.

To help others through times of crisis, Licensed Professional Counselor Michelle Allen operates Potter’s Wheel Counseling, a Cartersville-based nonprofit counseling center.

“I don’t usually see patients during the holidays, I usually see them after the holidays,” Allen said. “I think people get past the holidays and realize they were miserable.

“A lot of it is about holidays and holidays being centered on family and relationships and when you have a loss, whether it’s death or divorce or just a relationship ending, then this is a time where you’re doing something by yourself that you have been doing with someone else.”

Allen’s first suggestion for those who faced emotional challenges during the holidays is to see if it passes with time. If the feelings last more than a few weeks, talk to someone.

“If you’ve been feeling this way a couple of days, it may not be that big of a deal, but when it lasts a couple of weeks to a month, it’s time to get some help,” Allen said. “If you’re not sure, if you think you may be depressed, just go talk to someone about it.

“A lot of people worry that if they go see a counselor, it means they’re crazy, and that’s not the case. But it doesn’t have to be a counselor. Go talk to your medical doctor, go to your pastor, talk to someone and get an outside opinion. The best thing you can do for depression, for mood, for trauma, is to talk about it.”

Allen has a master’s degree in family and marriage therapy with certifications in trauma therapy and child and adolescent therapy. Potter’s Wheel is a faith-based organization using integrated counseling methods of both Christian and secular teaching.

Allen supports a mixture counseling and medication for those working with their doctor in treating depression. For counseling without medication, she encourages her clients to practice habits which promote mental and emotional health, including eating cold-water fish a couple times a week, eating small doses of dark chocolate every day, spending time in sunlight absorbing vitamin D and getting regular exercise.

Potter’s Wheel Counseling opened in Marietta in 2008 and moved to Cartersville in August 2011. The center’s mission is to provide counseling services to the uninsured and underinsured. Allen is currently pursuing accreditation to become a National Health Service Corps provider.

Potter’s Wheel Counseling is located at 911 N. Tennessee St., Cartersville, suite 204. For more information, visit www.potterswheelcounseling.com or call 770-386-0776.