As the holidays roll around, the hearts of many swell with anticipation of cherished time with family members, gift sharing and endless celebrations. For some, however, the Christmas season is the most depressing time of year.

“The holidays are the darkest time of the year and it’s very hard for those who get the winter blues,” said Martine Drolet, a nurse who is the program officer for sexual and mental health in the Cree Public Health Department.

Depression is a common ailment in December because for many the holidays are a crisis time that conjures up unhappy memories or exacerbate an already difficult life. That’s why Public Health has begun to screen for depression during regular doctor’s visits.

“We created a little document [for doctors and health professionals] on how to ask people about depression. So if you come in for the flu, if doctors and nurses ask a question like, “How do you feel?” it is going to be preventing a lot of depression and a lot of suicide attempts,” Drolet explained.

“If you are feeling depressed, you need to consult a doctor or any health professional as there is a lot of chemistry involved that could perhaps be treated medically,” she added.

If someone is showing signs of depression, such as a dramatic shift in behaviour or expressing feelings of hopelessness, despair and suicidal ideation, or if you notice major changes in appetite and sleep patterns, being apathetic or withdrawing, these are all signs that someone may need help.

Substance abuse can also play a factor in depression, according to Drolet. She recommends that alcohol and drugs be avoided for those who have depressive tendencies, as they can be a catalyst for those who are already feeling down.

“For example, if you drank all weekend, on Monday morning you can feel very depressed. Even after a certain level of alcohol, you can get very depressed and that is where we get a lot of suicides. When people are drunk there is an increased risk for suicides,” said Dolet. “Drugs also tend to be very depressive. With cocaine you are on a high but when you come down you are going to be very, very depressed.”

Whatever the case, should you or someone you know be exhibiting symptoms of depression, do not hesitate to get help by contacting medical professionals in your community. If you or someone you know is looking for someone to talk to, Public Health has provided the following list of resources for those in need.

Kid’s Help Phone Line

(800) 668-6868

Provides immediate caring support to children and youth. Phone counselling, referral and internet services on sexuality, pregnancy, alcohol and substance abuse, suicide, separation, divorce and more.

Youth helpline

(800) 263-2266

Offers social intervention and educational services for children, youth and parents to prevent family violence.


(866) 738-4873

Monday to Friday, 9 am to 9 pm

Telephone service for listening, support and referral for people who have problems with anxiety, panic disorder, depression, post traumatic stress, or agoraphobia.

S.O.S. Conjugal Violence

(800) 363-9010 Offers phone services for listening, evaluation and referral for young woman and woman who live with violence.

Health and Sexuality resources centre

(888) 855-7432

Monday to Friday, 9 am to 5 p.m.

Offers listening and information on Sexual Transmitted Infections.

Gay Helpline

(888) 505-1010

Monday to Friday, 8 am to 3 am and Saturday-Sunday, 11 am to 3 am

Phone line to help, support and listen to gays and lesbians, and those close to them. Gives general information and resources on homosexuality.

Parent helpline

(800) 361-5085

Offers parents and caregivers access to support and information on parenting


Drugs: help and reference

(800) 265-2626

Provides help and referral services that are confidential, to people who have problems with drugs, to their relatives and peers, and also to community workers.

Gambling: help and reference

(800) 265-2626

Phone service for listening and referral on compulsive gambling