Get Support for the Holiday Blues

In the time between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day, some people may experience what mental health experts call the “holiday blues.”

For a lot of people, the holidays are a time of dread, so they are more prone to depression or even anxiety, says Howard Burley, medical director of the Tennessee Department of Mental Health.

There are a number of reasons this seasonal depression may occur, Burley says: personality type, financial stress or the physical demands of the season.

Some people have personalities that are more withdrawn, so they do not enjoy being in festive surroundings all the time, Burley says.

For a lot of people, the holidays also are a time of financial, physical or time stress.

The season can bring around memories of sadness for those who have lost somebody, Burley says.

The financial burden of meeting expectation of gifts for children and the physical demands of shopping, driving around town and enduring the cold also can trigger holiday blues.

Depending on the circumstances, the holiday blues are typically limited by time.

“As the holidays pass, it’s a sign of relief for them that it’s gone by,” he says. “Things get back to normal.”

For others, these situations could push them into real depression, Burley says.

“They might need treatment. Even after the holidays are gone, if you still have a feeling of sadness, other symptoms of depression, you should speak with your primary health care provider,” he says.

First, Burley says, a holiday blues sufferer should try to stay busy.

“Don’t stop doing things you typically do, like exercising,” he says. “Try not to engage in the overconsumption of alcohol, which can contribute. Try to stay active.”

When it comes to the financial aspect, Burley says to set reasonable expectations and a budget and stick to them. Do only what is physically possible without overdoing it. Don’t go to 50 places in one day, for example, he says.

If there is some kind conflict in the family, try to plan ahead and get some understanding in the family to make the holidays a happier time, Burley says.

“Be supportive,” he says. You don’t want to overwhelm the person, but be supportive.”