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Valentine’s Day no holiday for depressed

Updated: March 9, 2012 8:03AM

Valentine’s Day next week means literally millions across the country will flock to candy stores, flower shops and favorite restaurants to let their special someone know how much they care.

But for others, Feb. 14 brings feelings of loneliness or depression. Naperville Dr. Riaz Baber, 65, who is conducting clinical trials on the new anti-depression drug, Amitifadine, said Valentine’s Day often triggers an even deeper level of depression in those who already are struggling.

“The national statistics we have indicate that there are 17 million people in this country who are clinically depressed, and we also know that 25 percent of the population will experience clinical depression sometime during their life,” the psychiatrist said. “People always have issues during the holidays, but Valentine’s Day can be especially hard as depressed people tend to have already lost relationships and a connection to people.

“Valentine’s Day comes with flowers or candy or a special dinner, and people without someone to share that with feel even more rejected.”

Baber said causes of depression include as many as three factors. Two of them have remained stable in terms of causing depression, but a third factor is on the rise.

“The number of people who become depressed because of a genetic predisposition or as a part of other ongoing medical issues have stayed, proportionally, pretty much the same,” he said. “The third cause, which we call the ‘social issues’ that include loss of a job or spouse or having no social life — is on the rise.”

Peggy Frank, media outreach specialist for the New York-based BioCom Partners, a public relations agency that serves biotechnology and life science organizations, says that “by the year 2020, depression will be the second-most common health problem in the world.”

“Just because Valentine’s Day is a day of the year carved out for celebrating love doesn’t mean that everyone is feeling great anticipation and happiness,” Frank said. “If you search the term ‘Valentine’s Day and depression’ on YouTube, it yields 35 million results. And unfortunately for some, this depression isn’t just a one-day thing.”

Baber said the clinical trials of the new anti-depression drug should conclude sometime in the next three to four months.

In the meantime, here are some of his suggestions about dealing with depression experienced on Valentine’s Day — or any day, for that matter.

Recognize that you are depressed, find a professional and talk with one, Baber said.

Part of the process in getting better involves what is commonly known as “cognitive therapy.” People need to put depression in the proper perspective, Baber said, and realize that thinking about depression makes folks even more depressed and deepens the grieving or the loss. Cognitive therapy means anchoring your thinking in reality.

Spend Valentine’s Day with family or a hobby you enjoy and get out as much as possible, Baber said. If you can’t be with someone you love, participate in an activity you love and pamper yourself. If movies are your thing, go see one or two.

Remember that depression is treatable.

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