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A Holiday Message From Dr. Woo


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A-Message-from-Dr.-Woo

As we prepare for the upcoming holidays, family reunions, longer nights, and the end of the  year, I find myself compelled to engage in a different type of conversation with my readers on this blog—one about our mental well-being during a period when all of us, whether we have a medical history of mental health issues or not, can struggle to find that seasonal cheer. Along the way, I will share some mental health tips for the holidays that you may find helpful.

The world can be challenging and tumultuous, and it’s easy to become overwhelmed by the constant barrage of stress, strife, and disheartening news. As Americans and as a global community, we are still processing the disruption and losses of the COVID-19 pandemic, a prolonged economic crisis, the threat of climate change, and the flaring up of violence and war in Ukraine, Gaza, and other conflict zones. Even if we are fortunate enough not to be directly impacted, the sense of powerlessness against such large-scale events can contribute to our anxiety and worsen our mental health symptoms.

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Several recent studies have shown that these ongoing crises all contribute to increased levels of stress, depression, and anxiety across all demographics of society, even though different age and gender groups display varying sensitivity to different factors (1,2,3). Many people experience recurring patterns of depression during the holidays, sometimes in conjunction with anxiety, known as anxious depression. For the sensitive among us, the very feelings of empathy and connection with our fellow human beings that are highlighted during the holiday season sometimes seem to work against us. But it’s important to remember that they are, in the end, a positive force and that we can always do something to deal with holiday stress.

Mental Health Tips For The Holidays

The holiday season, while often filled with joy and celebration, can also bring about a unique set of challenges for our mental health. It’s important to acknowledge that it can be hard to celebrate Christmas, New Year, or other winter holidays, especially during these times.

Everyone’s situation is unique, but there are many common stressors associated with the Christmas period. If you are feeling overwhelmed with the onset of the holidays, there are a few general tips that can help you manage your mental health and avoid triggering your symptoms. 

  • Manage your expectations—life isn’t like it is in the movies, at Christmas or any other time
  • Plan ahead and avoid stressful situations
  • If you expect family conflict, make a plan to take a break or leave early
  • If you’re worried about money, set a budget in advance and stick to it
  • Enjoy the company of others, and don’t be afraid to participate in holiday celebrations even if you have your doubts—you might surprise yourself
  • Don’t overdo it with food and alcohol
  • Take some time out for self-care and activities that you enjoy
  • Make sure to get enough sleep—many symptoms of seasonal affective disorder (SAD) are connected with a lack of proper sleep

For more useful holiday mental health tips, you may find it helpful to read our article on New Year’s resolutions for your mental health.

Finally, in the spirit of understanding and compassion, I want you to know that it’s okay to feel the world’s weight on your shoulders. You are not alone in experiencing the ups and downs that life throws our way. It’s crucial to recognize that, just like any other aspect of our health, mental well-being requires attention, care, and, sometimes, professional assistance.

The Importance Of Seeking Help

As a psychiatrist who specializes in talk therapy and transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS), I’ve witnessed the transformative power of these approaches in helping individuals navigate the complexities of their mental health. Talk therapy provides a safe space to express thoughts and feelings, unraveling the tangled threads of our minds with the guidance of a trained professional.

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For some, traditional methods may not be sufficient, and that’s where TMS comes into play. It’s a non-invasive, well-tolerated procedure that has shown remarkable and long-lasting results, particularly for those who may not have found relief through other means.

I write this message as an invitation to prioritize our mental well-being and seek help when needed. If you or someone you care about is struggling with persistent symptoms, whether it’s depression, anxiety, or the weight of the world becoming too much to bear, there is help available.

At Madison Avenue TMS and Therapy, we provide compassionate care and cutting-edge treatments for depression and other mental health conditions. Take that first step toward a brighter and more fulfilling tomorrow, and contact us for a consultation.

In this season of warmth and togetherness, let us also extend that warmth to ourselves. Remember that seeking help is a sign of strength, and by taking care of our mental health, we can cultivate a more resilient and joyous spirit within. I hope that this holiday season may be a time of healing, connection, and renewed hope for you and your loved ones.

Resources:

  1. Barchielli B, Cricenti C, Gallè F, Sabella EA, Liguori F, Da Molin G, Liguori G, Orsi GB, Giannini AM, Ferracuti S, et al. Climate Changes, Natural Resources Depletion, COVID-19 Pandemic, and Russian-Ukrainian War: What Is the Impact on Habits Change and Mental Health? International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. 2022; 19(19):11929. Link. Accessed November 24, 2023.
  2. Massag, J., Diexer, S., Klee, B., Costa, D., Gottschick, C., Broda, A., Purschke, O., Opel, N., Binder, M., Sedding, D., Frese, T., Girndt, M., Hoell, J., Moor, I., Rosendahl, J., Gekle, M., & Mikolajczyk, R. (2023). Anxiety, depressive symptoms, and distress over the course of the war in Ukraine in three federal states in Germany. Frontiers in Psychiatry, 14, 1167615. Link. Accessed November 24, 2023.
  3. Mejia, C. R., Alvarez-Risco, A., Chamorro-Espinoza, S., Castillón-Lozano, J. A., Paucar, M. C., Armada, J., Vilela-Estrada, M. A., Serna-Alarcón, V., Del-Aguila-Arcentales, S., & Yáñez, J. A. (2023). Crisis due to war: Anxiety, depression and stress in the population of 13 Latin American countries. Frontiers in Psychiatry, 14. Link. Accessed November 24, 2023.
Dr. Woo has been seeing patients in private practice since 2002, always with the goals of combining evidence-based medicine with psychodynamic psychotherapy and collaborating with other mental health professionals to ensure the best possible outcomes for his patients. He has been certified to administer TMS at his practice since 2017. His greatest clinical interests include helping patients suffering from depression, anxiety, and obsessive compulsive disorder.


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