Holiday Blues Run Much Deeper for Some

by
Holiday Depression

It’s the most wonderful time of the year With the kids jingle belling And everyone telling you “Be of good cheer” It’s the most wonderful time of the year It’s the hap-happiest season of all With those holiday greetings and gay happy meetings When friends come to call It’s the hap- happiest season of all […]

Men and women both suffer from holiday blues.It’s the most wonderful time of the year
With the kids jingle belling
And everyone telling you “Be of good cheer”
It’s the most wonderful time of the year
It’s the hap-happiest season of all
With those holiday greetings and gay happy meetings
When friends come to call
It’s the hap- happiest season of all
Lyrics from “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year,” written by Edward Pola and George Wyle (1963)

Happy Holidays! Glad tidings! Be merry! This time of year, everywhere we turn the message is loud and clear: You should be happy!

But what if you’re not?

A minor case of the holiday blues is normal, especially after the hubbub dies down and the dark days of winter settle in. The good news about the “holiday blues” is they are usually short-lived. A more severe type of the winter doldrums is referred to as Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). Although the symptoms may be similar, SAD usually begins in September or October and persists through spring. We tend to eat more, sleep more and stay at home. The disorder isn’t just about feeling sad. It also has significant physical symptoms.

1 in 5 Missouri adult experiences depression.There are treatments for Seasonal Affective Disorder that do not involve medications. It is important to eat right, get regular amounts of sleep, and exercise (which does not mean running through the mall at the last minute to get gifts!) Participating in outdoor activities in the sunlight will also help.

Yet, for 1 in 10 Americans, the holiday blues run much deeper. These people struggle with depression throughout the year, and the sparkling lights, holiday music and festive parties only make the season more difficult to enjoy. Contrary to popular belief, March has the highest number of suicides. People with clinical major depression see everyone around them shake off the winter blues, which may increase their sense of hopelessness.

It’s important to know and understand the difference between the holiday blues/Seasonal Affective Disorder and depression. Major depression (see symptoms below) is much more debilitating and affects multiple areas of your life, including your ability to function on a daily basis. If you experience some of the following symptoms during the holidays to such a degree that you have difficulty maintaining your normal activity level and relationships, contact your primary care doctor who can recommended treatment or refer you to a mental health professional.

Common Symptoms of Depression

  • Little interest or pleasure in doing things
  • Feeling down, depressed, or hopeless for an extended period of time
  • Trouble falling asleep or staying asleep, or sleeping too much
  • Feeling tired or having little energy
  • Poor appetite or overeating
  • Feeling bad about yourself or like you let yourself or your family down
  • Thoughts of death or suicide
  • Trouble concentrating on simple activities, such as reading the newspaper or watching television

Depression cannot always be prevented, but it can be treated. If you do not have a primary care doctor, we can help. Call 816.221.HEAL (4325).

Todd Hill, DO

Todd Hill, DO

Dr. Hill is a psychiatrist with Meritas Health Psychiatry.

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