“Holiday blues are a pretty common problem despite the fact that as a society, we see the holidays as a joyous time,” says Rakesh Jain, MD, director of psychiatric drug research at the R/D Clinical Research Center in Lake Jackson, Texas. “Many people feel depressed, which can be due to the increased stress that comes with the need to shop and the decreased time to exercise which gets put on the back burner during the holidays.”
While people with clinical depression should seek professional help, those with a touch of the holiday blues can try these strategies recommended by experts to assure a merry holiday and a happy new year:
- Avoid setting up unrealistic expectations for yourself such as taking on hosting responsibilities for events or trying to be the peace keeper in family conflicts.
- Plan ahead by creating prevention routines for yourself and doing your best to follow your schedule. Set up a calendar of to do lists for positive actions for yourself.
- Remember it’s ok to grieve. If you’ve suffered a loss and this season is a painful reminder of that, don’t be ashamed to grieve that loss. Feelings are a sign that you’re human and reflect where you are in your healing process.
- Don’t rob yourself of proper rest! Sleep and rest are important to everyone. Studies have proven that sleep deprivation is directly connected to depression. Do not cut back on your sleep in order to get more done during this busy season. Create a sleep schedule and stick to it.
- Avoid binging on food and alcohol. What feels good at the moment will have you facing regrets later on. Know your limits and stick to them at all times. In the moment binging may seem like a solution, but in actuality it creates more problems.
If your feelings of sadness during the holidays are accompanied by suicidal thoughts, do one of the following immediately: 1. Call 911 2. Go immediately to a hospital emergency room. 3. Contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255).
Could I be Suffering from Depression?
Here are some symptoms to help identify depression in yourself or in a loved one:
- Prolonged sadness or unexplained crying spells
- Difficulty sleeping or sleeping too much
- Struggling with concentrating
- Feelings of hopelessness or helplessness
- Overwhelming and uncontrollable negative thoughts
- Loss of appetite or significant increase in appetite
- Escalating irritability, aggression, or anger
- Loss of interest in hobbies or activities previously enjoyed
- Developing an increase in alcohol consumption or reckless (acting out) behavior
- Thoughts that your life is not worth living or thoughts of death or suicide
- Fatigue, exhaustion, lack of energy
- Feelings of worthlessness or excessive guilt
- Inability to concentrate or make decisions
- Pessimism, indifference
- Unexplained aches and pains
If you are experiencing these symptoms you should seek professional help immediately. If you observe these symptoms in a loved one, gently encourage them to consider professional help.
For a listing of depression support groups, please visit the DBSA online.
For Family and Friends
Keep in mind that a mood disorder such as Depression is a physical, treatable illness that effects a person’s brain. It is a real illness, as real as diabetes or asthma. It is not a character flaw or personal weakness, and it is not caused by anything you or your loved one did.
A “tough love” approach is widely considered unhelpful in terms of aiding someone with depression.
What to do in Crisis Situation
If you believe your loved one is at an immediate risk for suicide, do NOT leave the person alone.
In the U.S., dial 911 or call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK