LACKLAND AIR FORCE BASE, Texas —
For most, the holidays bring feelings of joy, happiness and a sense of peace.
For others, it's the opposite - loneliness, sadness, depression. The stress and strain of the season can lead to the "holiday blues."
But no Airman has to willingly experience the blues. There are resources available at Lackland to help.
"We have three main sources," Lackland Chaplain (Lt. Col.) Shon Neyland said. "If you're feeling down, a little sad or depressed, one (resource) is the chaplain office. There are also military and family life consultants through the Airman and Family Readiness Center, and mental health."
Less formal resources, including an Airman's wingman, first sergeant, commanders and supervisors are also valuable resources, he said.
Chaplain Neyland, a licensed professional counselor, said troubled relationships, the death of a loved one, separation from family members and friends, being away from home and financial difficulties are all stressors linked to holiday blues.
Often overlooked warning signs include changes in sleep patterns, weight loss or gain, increased anger or anxiety, headaches, lack of concentration and decreased interest.
"Someone who is generally sad most of the time, withdrawn, not interacting with others at work or at home or not talking very much, may be experiencing classic symptoms of depression," Chaplain Neyland said.
The chaplain said there are actions someone who is feeling down can take.
"Make sure to socialize and don't isolate yourself," he said. "Accept your gift-giving budget - we strain ourselves financially and this can create pressure during the holidays.
"Communicate with others and talk about your feelings with your wingman or family members. Surround yourself with family and friends."
Chaplain Neyland said Airmen can make a difference by looking out for their wingmen with a simple phone call or conversation.
"Connect with that person," he said. "Give them a sense of hope, encourage interaction with others they know and love, like family and friends. Don't let them stay isolated."
Counseling is available through the base chaplain's office and other services.
"If someone just wants to talk or receive spiritual advice or guidance, even pray, we can offer that," Chaplain Neyland said. "A lot of people just want to be heard."
Military and Family Life Consultants (MFLCs) provide another avenue. The consultants are Masters or PhD-level licensed clinical counselors who work with existing military family support programs.
Services are available on or off base to individuals, couples, families and groups, but not in a military member's home. MFLCs are required to report child abuse, domestic abuse and duty-to-warn situations. Otherwise, services are confidential and private. No records are kept.
Sharon Witter, AFRC flight chief, said MFLCs are available to both adults and children.
For more information or services, contact the base chaplain's office at 671-4101, the AFRC at 671-3722 or MFLCs at 632-8145 or 632-3231.