Find the perfect present.
Host the perfect party.
Create the perfect memory.
In addition to the millions of loose ends busy women attempt to keep tied throughout the rest of the year, the stress of pulling together a perfect Christmas just may be the string that makes the whole thing unravel.
Dr. Doreen Feldhouse spoke to members of Dyersburg Regional Medical Center's Healthy Woman program about two forms of depression at "A Very Merry Healthy Woman Christmas." The last event of the calendar year took place at the Lannom Center on Monday, Dec. 3.
"Depression is the leading psychiatric diagnosis among everyone in the world," said Feldhouse. "Women are affected more than men. Twenty percent of women have been depressed at some point in their life, with 13 percent depressed at any given time. Men have it a little better. Thirteen percent of men have been depressed at some point in their life, with 8 percent depressed at any given time."
Feldhouse defined Major Depression Disorder as "feeling sad for a prolonged period of time."
Other symptoms of depression include:
* losing interest in the activities that you used to enjoy
* lack of motivation
* no desire to get out of bed -- "I am so tired I cannot move"
* or becoming so hyped up you cannot sleep -- "There are women running around 90-to-nothing and they may not be accomplishing anything," said Feldhouse.
Feldhouse said weight may be affected.
* Some lose interest in eating and lose weight.
* Others turn to food when they feel depressed.
"So, there are two major symptoms of depression," said Feldhouse. "One: a depressed or sad mood for two weeks or longer. Two: a lack of interest in things that used to interest you. There are also feelings of worthlessness or guilt. Feelings like 'Why was I put here?' 'I am no help to anyone.'"
A major depression also causes physical symptoms like headaches, back pain, neck pain, constipation, diarrhea or irritated bowel syndrome.
"It is our job (as a physician) to figure out if you are sick or depressed," said Feldhouse. "It is the doctor's job to sort out the physical from the mental."
"Women are pretty amazing," said Feldhouse. "They are still responsible for childcare, their homes and now most must balance that with work. At Christmas, most women are responsible for the majority of shopping for presents, wrapping and making sure they are sent out in time. There are also additional events, parties to go to ... no wonder women feel pulled in every direction."
Feldhouse provided a quick list for reducing Christmas stress and holiday depression, but first, she gave women attending the event permission to take care of themselves.
To change tradition.
To try something new.
"First, you have to know your triggers," said Feldhouse. "I cannot stand in line for Santa. My daughter has to do it. It's not a granny's job. If untangling the lights makes you want to hurt somebody, delegate! If you really hate something, it's OK to change tradition."
Feldhouse's quick list of tips for reducing holiday stress can be used in a variety of ways -- from dealing with 'toxic' people in your life to enduring the first Christmas after the loss of a loved one.
* Know your triggers -- and avoid them
* Don't overextend yourself -- learn to say 'No'
* Acknowledge your feelings -- if you have lost a loved one, it is normal to feel sad and to grieve. You cannot force happiness, but you can still enjoy the blessings you have.
* Reach out -- if you feel lonely, sad or isolated, seek out others. Volunteer. Attend a community or church event. Talk with an old friend.
* Be realistic -- Not everything will go as expected. Traditions and rituals may change. Enjoy what there is. Forget the rest.
* Stick to your budget -- An avalanche of gifts will not bring happiness, nor will the post-Christmas bills. Love is the perfect gift.
* Set aside differences -- Stow your grievances and be thankful that you can share the blessing of Christ's birth and His love of us all. Avoid toxic people in general and when unable to do so, spend as little time as possible in their company.
* Plan ahead -- Schedule time for those things you feel are most important to you. If you hate shopping, order online or from a catalog. If you like to bake, make a list and ONE trip to the store.
* Don't worsen things -- Avoid overindulgence, which will only make you feel guilty and more stressed. Have a healthy snack before you attend a party. Limit alcoholic beverages. Get plenty of sleep and don't forget to exercise. If you see a therapist, you might want to add a session.
* Take some time for yourself -- Do something that allows you to clear your mind, slow your breathing and restore your inner calm. Listen to soothing music. Take a walk. Gaze at the stars. Look at Christmas lights. Whatever works for you and refreshes you enough to return to the things you feel compelled to do.
"Make Christmas simpler, take care of yourself," said Feldhouse. "With a little planning and some positive thinking, you can find peace and joy during the holidays."