“As a society, we’ve been swimming in this collective grief."By Andrea Alvarez

(CW44 News At 10) – The holidays are typically known for gathering, fun, and celebration. But it’s not always like that for everyone according to local health experts. As the winter months roll around, typically, so does seasonal depression.

“Less sunshine, it really can take it’s toll on our bodies, on our nervous systems, on our biology,” said Yolanda Harper LCSW, Owner of Harper Therapy in Lutz. “It’s interesting because Florida typically does have more sun and longer days than in the Midwest or other parts of the country, but, still our bodies get adapted to the amount of sunlight we are exposed to.”

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And if you’re not in that festive mood, you’re not alone.

“It is the most wonderful time of the year, right? Except for when it’s not and that can feel really complicated because a lot of us do look forward to the holidays and festivities. You know, there’s been a lot of loss for many of us for the past couple of years and that pot of grief can really be stirred this time of year,” she said.

Both 2020 and 2021 have taken us all for a wild spin, leaving many folks feeling depressed and anxious. But with the added stress of family withdrawal and abstaining from holiday tradition two years in a row, more people are feeling this way.

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“People have a lot of expectations about the holiday and it’s idealized as a time of celebration and fun and all that. Sometimes when people are in a tough situation, their expectation and their idea about the great time that they’re supposed to be having actually contributes to them feeling worse,” said Dr. Kristopher Kaliebe who specializes in Psychiatry and Behavioral Neurosciences at the University of South Florida.

Especially when we get nostalgic for the way things were in the past.

“As a society, we’ve been swimming in this collective grief, right? I mean, think about how different the world looks like now than it did. It also doesn’t help that every six months we’ve got a new variant. It kind of just pulls us back and that’s a punch in the gut,” said Harper. She’s on a mission to normalize the grief many of us are facing during a pandemic. “In our society, especially when it comes to grief, you’ve got like five minutes. You know, it’s like ‘ok are you over it yet? It’s been six months, what’s wrong? Why aren’t you back to normal’.”

Common signs of depression can be negative moods and negative outlooks on things. Dr. Kaliebe says that a lot of times in kids, they’re not talking about things, so it might just  be a change in their look, a change in their attitude, withdrawal, not doing the usual activities.

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If you or someone you know is struggling with depression or suicide, call 800-273-8255 or visit suicidepreventionlifeline.org