This time of year can bring joy as well as sadness to just about anyone. For the local hospital emergency department, however, the holidays can mean an increase in patients who have potentially put themselves in peril.
According to Mark DeSilva, M.D., Emergency Department Medical Director at Gottlieb Memorial Hospital: “For those who have no support system, no friends, family, loved ones or even co-workers, the holidays can prove very deadly. Everywhere, there are signs of gatherings, gift exchanges, happiness and love. If you are not experiencing what the rest of the world is enjoying, it is very bitter. . . . The holidays bring out desperate behavior in unstable individuals and they frequently end up in the ED as a medical emergency.”
DeSilva advises that there are usually signs when an individual is feeling overwhelmed by the holidays, and friends, families, and co-workers have time to intervene. DeSilva provides five tips to identify those who may be vulnerable as the year winds down:
- Isolated behavior – “Most people are busy going to social gatherings, shopping, attending events and connecting with friends. Look for those who shun social interaction or who consistently do not attend events that they say they will.
- Angry mood – “The person expresses sarcasm, unhappiness or criticism of others’ joy in the season and is consistently pessimistic.”
- Alcohol or drug excess – “Beer or cocktails, readily available throughout the holidays, or illegal drugs, are overindulged to numb the pain the individual is feeling and offer an escape from reality.”
- Missing frequently from work/social activities – “Facing others who are happy and bright is often too difficult for those feeling the holiday blues. They may be consistently absent or very late to work or no-shows at anticipated social engagements.”
- Excessive sleeping – “Depression often takes the guise of extreme fatigue or tiredness. The body shuts down to form an escape from the everyday world.”
Third party intervention is very important, and DeSilva concludes: “Talk to the individual and tell them the behavior that you are seeing and offer to help. There are social services, community groups, churches and other programs that can intervene. . . . By recognizing when a person is in trouble, and speaking out, you may not only save them a trip to the ED, but also save a life.” [audio:http://hospitalstay.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/12/01-Merry-Christmas-Baby-Please-Dont-Die.mp3|titles=Merry Christmas, Baby]
Additional Source: Medical News Today.