Special Report: Holiday Stress Part One 

The holidays are a time to celebrate peace, love, and family.But for some, those emotions can turn into stress and depression.While it may be the most wonderful time of year for some, the holidays canbe the most dreaded for others.With crowds packing the malls for the best holiday deals and busyairports as travelers head out of town to see their loved ones, thespirit of the season often gets lost.”I think people’s expectations about what it’s supposed to be havegotten so, that there’s this kind of pressure to make this, each one the best one or that it all has to be good or something,” says Dr. David Prescott, a psychologist at Acadia Hospital in Bangor.Dr. Prescott says people tend to get stressed when their idea of a picture perfect holiday falls short.”To keep having a great holiday experience for 6 or 8 weeks is almost impossible. There’s no other part in our life where we expect everything to be upbeat and happy for 6 or 8 weeks, but somehow we believe that around the holidays,” he said.Dr. Prescott says there are a number of stressors that impact individualsaround the holidays, such as finances and unresolved family issues.Even the simple act of going to the mall can turn into a difficult task.”Noise and constant attention switching on hand on our psyche and being there for a long time is difficult and being around other people also makes you stressed,” he said.The stressors can prove too much for some.”Sometimes you see an increase in habits that you know you used to cope with stress, some people start to smoke more, drink more, eat more, exercise less.”Some people are even driven to extremes.Sgt. Paul Edwards with the Bangor Police Department says the agency sees a spike in crimes during the holidays, such as shoplifting and petty theft.”The stores are full, people are shopping, it’s a chance for someone who doesn’t want to commit those crimes, it gives them a bit of an easier way of it, where there is so much commotion so much, that busy time of year.”The stress goes beyond the mall. Edwards says it’s common to see casesof domestic violence go up.Also, some families struggle to put food on the table and presents under the tree during the holidays.Dr. Jane Balbo at Eastern Maine Medical Center says when the heads of the family get stressed, it spreads to the children, creating more problems.”They’re worried about their parents getting divorced, not getting along or if the topic of the arguments they hear has to do with Christmas presents, the children may feel responsibility for that orhave guilt.”Coming up on Wednesday night, we’ll look into possible solutions on how you can eliminate stress and find the true meaning of the holiday season.