The holiday season is a time full of joy,
cheer, parties, and family gatherings. However, for many people, it is a time of
self-evaluation, loneliness, reflection on past failures, and anxiety about an
What Causes Holiday Blues?
Many factors can cause the "holiday blues": stress, fatigue,
unrealistic expectations, over-commercialization, financial constraints, and the
inability to be with oneís family and friends. The demands of shopping,
parties, family reunions, and house guests also contribute to feelings of
tension. People who do not become depressed may develop other stress responses,
such as: headaches, excessive drinking, over-eating, and difficulty sleeping.
Even more people experience post-holiday let down after January 1. This can
result from disappointments during the preceding months compounded with the
excess fatigue and stress.
Coping with stress and depression during
|Keep expectations for the holiday season
manageable. Try to set realistic goals for yourself. Pace yourself. Organize
your time. Make a list and prioritize the important activities. Be realistic
about what you can and cannot do. Do not put entire focus on just one day
(i.e., Thanksgiving Day) remember it is a season of holiday sentiment and
activities can be spread out (time-wise) to lessen stress and increase
|Remember the holiday season does not banish
reasons for feeling sad or lonely; there is room for these feelings to be
present, even if the person chooses not to express them.
|Leave "yesteryear" in the past
and look toward the future. Life brings changes. Each season is different
and can be enjoyed in its own way. Donít set yourself up in comparing
today with the "good olí days."
|Do something for someone else. Try
volunteering some time to help others.
|Enjoy activities that are free, such as
driving around to look at holiday decorations; going window shopping without
buying; making a snowperson with children.
|Be aware that excessive drinking will only
increase your feelings of depression.
|Try something new. Celebrate the holidays
in a new way.
|Spend time with supportive and caring
people. Reach out and make new friends or contact someone you have not heard
from for awhile.
|Save time for yourself! Recharge your
batteries! Let others share responsibility of activities.|
Can Environment be a Factor?
Recent studies show that some people suffer from seasonal affective disorder
(SAD) which results from fewer hours of sunlight as the days grow shorter during
the winter months. Phototherapy, a treatment involving a few hours of exposure
to intense light, is effective in relieving depressive symptoms in patients with
Other studies on the benefits of phototherapy
found that exposure to early morning sunlight was effective in relieving
seasonal depression. Recent findings, however, suggest that patients respond
equally well to phototherapy whether it is scheduled in the early afternoon.
This has practical applications for antidepressant treatment since it allows the
use of phototherapy in the workplace as well as the home.
For More Information:
Contact you local Mental Health Association, community mental health center, or:
National Mental Health Association
2001 N. Beauregard Street, 12th Floor
Alexandria, VA 22311
Mental Health Resource Center
TTY Line 800/433-5959