Health services see increase of patients during holiday season

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TWIN FALLS, Idaho (KMVT/KSVT) - St. Luke's Behavioral Health Services see an increase of patients during the fall and winter months, a time when the holiday's are around the corner.

"A lot of people struggle with depression during the holiday seasons," said Trevor Crapo, a clinical supervisor at St. Luke's Behavioral Health Services.

He said their depression can be mild-to-severe in nature, but depends on what is going in their life. The stresses of the holiday season can be an element to add to depression.

"There's usually an increase in anxiety. There are a lot of people... routines and structures change," Crapo continued. "There's a lot of expectations that go up, you know, you have to do A, B and C during the holidays."

Another element that can lead to depression around this time of the year is less daylight.

"We know that when there's less light, we have a change in our serotonin levels in our brain, and that could lead to increased depression," he said.

The natural rhythm in our body is called a circadian rhythm, and it changes through the fall and winter months.

"That changes when the season changes and less light. We have different melatonin levels in our body, it causes the challenges in sleeping and regulating our moods as well," Crapo explained.

Ways to increase those chemicals in the body is to get more active, he said.

"It's harder to get out and about, we know, during the winter months," he continued. "There's a direct connect to our brain and our body as we have more movement. There's chemicals, that are happy chemicals, that are released in our body and that helps us feel better."

He said going on walks, socializing and even using social media to connect with people can help lift the depression.

"We see a fair amount of increase in isolation, activity levels are decreased, there's more agitation, irritability," he explained the symptoms of depression.

Crapo said communicating with someone who is depressed can go a long way.

"When you see a significant change in these love ones that you're around, have a conversation with them," he continued. "We don't talk about this stuff. That's one of the number one effective forms of treatment is verbalizing, communicating around your feelings."

Crapo said the increased correlation between suicide and the holiday's is a myth.

"The research that I've looked at indicate that it's a myth, that people will wait usually after the holiday's for that sort of challenges, or suicide attempts, or those sort of things, because they don't want to put that burden on their family."

If you or someone you know may be struggling with depression, there are different ways to help. Reach out to a doctor or a there is a 24 hour crisis hotline.

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