What are the holiday blues?

What are the holiday blues?

Not everyone is merry during the holidays – for a variety of reasons.

The feelings of “joy to the world” are sometimes pushed out by stress, loneliness, family conflict, sadness and anxiety that can come up at this time of year.

Dr. Judy Ronan Woodburn, an Advocate Medical Group psychologist at BroMenn Medical Center in Normal, Ill., looks at this common condition.

What are the symptoms of the holiday blues?

In addition to feelings of sadness and depression, other common symptoms of the holiday blues include fatigue and increased irritability, Dr. Woodburn says.

What causes the holiday blues?

“A few of the most common reasons seem very much related to social expectations during the holiday season,” says Dr. Woodburn. Gift giving and its related financial consequences, increased social and family obligations and the overabundance of food and alcohol can sometimes stress people out more than it builds them up. Memories of loss of loved ones can also be more intense around the holidays.

“With all of the potential stressors, people often are not getting enough rest or other self-care, which makes us less resilient to the stress,” she adds.

Holiday blues vs. clinical depresion

“The holiday blues are usually temporary and dissipate when the season is over,” Dr. Woodburn says. Clinical depression involves a number of symptoms, including a depressed mood and/or a loss of interest or pleasure for a two-week period, representing a change from previous or “normal” daily functioning. If this occurs, the person should seek professional help from their physician or a mental/behavioral health specialist.

How to beat the blues

“During the season, setting some limits about extra activities, getting enough sleep, eating and drinking alcohol in moderation, getting exercise and other basic self care can help reduce the adverse impact of holiday stress,” says Dr. Woodburn. “Also, the holidays are meant to be a time of peace, joy and hope. Focusing on the true blessings of the season can be an important part of managing the stress.”

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health enews Staff
health enews Staff

health enews staff is a group of experienced writers from our Advocate Aurora Health sites, which also includes freelance or intern writers.