As the holidays of the fall and winter seasons approach, many can find themselves feeling “blue” rather than in the “holiday spirit.” What is expected to be an optimistic and cheerful time can bring about depression in many people, as they spend the holidays feeling sad and lonely. Not to be confused with Seasonal Affective Disorder, Holiday depression can occur during any holiday or vacation, but most commonly occurs during the winter holidays, when most of the world celebrates in some way. Causes for holiday depression can vary, but the symptoms often mimic clinical depression. Fortunately, holiday depression does not last for as long a time period, subsiding shortly after the holiday season ends and normal routines resume. While this period of feeling blue can be quite intense, these symptoms last for a few days or weeks.
Factors such as unrealistic expectations, inability to be with loved ones, memories of past holidays, and increased stress can lead to feeling holiday blues. Symptoms can include agitation, inappropriate feelings of guilt, and decreased interest in pleasurable activities. Ways to manage such symptoms include keeping healthy, doing something good for others, contacting or spending time with a loved one, and allowing oneself to feel sad, as these are normal feelings.
If you or someone you know needs immediate help, please contact 1-800-273-TALK. The hotline is open 24/7. If you have questions about mental health, please contact the NAMI Arkansas warm line at 1-800-844-0381.