For many, the holidays are a time to have fun with family, friends and good food, but millions of Americans will spend the holidays alone, some suffering from holiday depression.
"Sometimes holidays are tied into certain anniversaries, like the loss of a loved one or loss of a job, even children growing up and going away from home," said Ethel Bellamy, Executive Director of the Waccamaw Center for Mental Health. She says being alone on the holidays or remembering negative events can cause seasonal depression. "Generally that is not a long lasting depression, it occurs because triggers that the holidays tend to bring."
Bellamy says if you think the holidays may make you depressed, there are ways to avoid the sadness. "Plan the holiday out, so that you are in touch with other people and that might also involve volunteering so you're actually with groups of people and you're doing something that is meaningful."
That's what we found a group of people doing at Thee Baptist Worship Center in Conway. "A lot of our families, our church families, don't have any immediate family here," said Pastor Lamar Boulware as he served thanksgiving dinner to parishioners and strangers.
"You can tell, especially in us older people, you can tell the loneliness when the grandchildren are 500 miles away. We want that companionship and we want people around us," Boulware added.
Rob Heinz moved to the area from West Virginia and though his kids are now grown and scattered across the county, he's staying busy with his new church family. "I run the youth group here so they're just like having my own kids here," Heinz said. "It gives a meaning to come and do something like this at thanksgiving. It gives something for us to take our mind off it when were missing our family."
Like many psychological issues, Bellamy says the first step is acknowledging there's a problem, and if the depression persists past the holidays, you need to seek help. Those at Thee Baptist have found all the support and happiness they'll need to get them through. "You cant experience this crowd and not come back," said Pastor Boulware.