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The most successful antidotes to depression are gratitude and service, according to Carmen J. Acevedo, a Behavioral Health Consultant who works in the 45th Medical Group at Patrick Air Force Base, Fla. "Shifting the focus on what we have rather than what we lack and helping others who may be struggling can have a significant uplifting effect on our mood," she said. (U.S. Air Force photo/Christopher C. Calkins)

The most successful antidotes to depression are gratitude and service, according to Carmen J. Acevedo, a Behavioral Health Consultant who works in the 45th Medical Group at Patrick Air Force Base, Fla. "Shifting the focus on what we have rather than what we lack and helping others who may be struggling can have a significant uplifting effect on our mood," she said. (U.S. Air Force photo/Christopher C. Calkins)

PATRICK AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. -- The 45th Medical Group has people and programs to get you the care you need - you are not alone!

You can't readily see it, it can't be fixed with a splint or cast and it can't be detected by taking your blood pressure or temperature. But make no mistake about it; depression during the holidays is very common, according to Carmen J. Acevedo, a Behavioral Health Consultant who works in the 45th Medical Group.

Acevedo, who is part of the 45th Space Wing's Behavioral Health Optimization Program (BHOP), said she is available to assist active-duty personnel, family members, retirees and any beneficiary of the clinic who wants or needs someone to talk to.

Acevedo acts as a consultant to all the medical providers when patients are expressing symptoms of anxiety or depression, experiencing life stressors or losses, or need help managing a chronic disease, and is often available on the same day patient sees their medical provider. 

Over the last few weeks, this experienced Licensed Clinical Social Worker has already begun to see an increase in the number of patients experiencing symptoms of stress, anxiety or depression.

"Invariably, at this time of year we begin to see an increase in these symptoms," she said. "The holidays are always 'advertised' and expected to be the most festive and fun times of the year, but that's not always the case," she added from her office in the main clinic here.

She said, holiday blues can be due to a variety of factors: 

"Maybe a loved one is no longer around to celebrate,  maybe it's the loss of a job, a relationship, a home, or financial security ... it could be almost anything," she said. 

"It could also be stressful to anticipate spending time with family members with whom we have unresolved conflicts or resentments. And, there's also the lonely active-duty patient who can't go home for the Christmas holidays."

According to Acevedo those suffering from depression almost always experience what she calls "distorted tunnel vision." 

"All they can see are the negatives or what they perceive as losses or hopeless situations in their lives. What BHOP helps patients do is open the lens on their lives so that they can see the full picture, what's good in their lives, not just what depression makes them see"

The most successful antidotes to depression, Acevedo added, are gratitude and service. 

"Shifting the focus on what we have rather than what we lack and helping others who may be struggling can have a significant uplifting effect on our mood. 

If you find your symptoms are not improving or are escalating, even after following these recommendations, that's a sign that you may need professional help and a good place to start seeking that help is your primary care provider, she added.   

Finally, Acevedo stated that, if we notice that someone is sad or we know they are having a hard time during the holidays, sometimes just asking, "how are you doing?" goes a long way toward helping people feel cared for and not alone.

Acevedo can be reached by calling (321) 494-8851 or through your Primary Care Team.