Holiday Depression Hits Big Easy

In a city where candy canes stand outside FEMA trailers and a generator runs the only Christmas lights in a destroyed neighborhood it can be a challenge to feel merry and bright.

Hoping to heal mental wounds, Dr. Elmore Rigamer and his team are bringing their counseling door to door in New Orleans, reports CBS News correspondent Trish Regan.

"The reality of the long haul is crashing in upon us," Rigamer says.

Even in the best of times, the holidays can be trying. In this battered region, the combination of Katrina fatigue and Christmas blues has created a level of stress, far beyond what any here thought they'd ever have to face.

Depression is taking its toll. Alcohol consumption is soaring.

And police crisis counselors are responding to almost twice as many suicide attempts as before.

After losing the home where she'd raised her family, 67-year-old Margie Fluett almost lost her will to live.

"It is a loss of a way of life," Fluett says.

Fluett adds grimly, "I have passed the graveyard and I thought how fortunate they were not to have to face all of this."

But family, she says, has kept her strong. "Because I go on for them," Fluett says crying. "For my children." And for her grandchildren.

"You don't have to have a house to enjoy a grandchild, or to be loved by anyone, and you think about that," Fluett says.

Thousands are thinking about that in New Orleans this year. They're here, determined to carry on a holiday tradition. And rebuild their lives and their city.