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WASHINGTON (WUSA9) -- Whilesome maybe baking holiday cookies and wrapping presents, others may be feeling especially down as we get closer to Christmas and New Years. Holiday depression is certainly real and it affects a wide range of people.

Psychiatrist and author Dr. Norman Rosenthalsees a spike in depression cases during the month of December. The holidays can bring past memories of loved ones, or make people more critical of themselves. Especially when they expect to have a perfect holiday.

Dr. Rosenthal says, "Everybody expects the holidays is gonna be this tremendous party and everybody is gonna have so much fun. But for a lot of people is is not always that way."

He urges those who are depressed to get back to the basics by celebrating the real meaning of the season. He emphasizes the human connections rather than the material side of the holidays.

Dr. Rosenthal says, "Remember to get into the spirit of things, relaxing, being with friends and family, reaching out perhaps to those who are less fortunate than you are because gratitude is a key of happiness."

Dr. Rosenthal and his collegues actually discovered Seasonal Affective Disorder, also known as the winter blues, in 1984. He says people may need to seek a specialist to distinguish between the holiday blues and the winter blues, since they are treated differently.

"The one needs company, companionship, friendship, reaching out. The other actually needs light and some specific things that the winter blues require," adds Dr. Rosenthal.

Dr. Rosenthal says if you are feeling lonely or disdvantaged, try volunteering. It's a great way to get out and about, while helping others at the same time. And if you suspect that a friend or loved one is suffering from holiday depression, reach out. That can have a huge impact on the particularindividual and their peers.

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