Holiday Blues or Depression?

Feeling a little sad after the holidays? If so, you’re not alone.

woman experiencing post-holiday blues

Have you heard of the holiday blues or seasonal depression (seasonal affective disorder)? Are they serious? How are they different than depression? These phenomena are experienced and talked about around the world. When should you be concerned?

The holiday blues include some symptoms of depression triggered by seasonal events and unmet expectations. You probably already know this, and you’re ready to combat it. You’re gonna be your best self and you’re ready to feel all the good feelings. You daydream of smiles and laughter, and the warm, idyllic waves of joy, love, compassion, and generosity that accompany traditions. You make lists. You write cards. You decorate. And then, you think about the people you can’t be with, and your calendar starts to fill up. You worry about choosing the right attire, and the ridiculous focus on feasting, and the booze, and… and then joy and generosity give way to financial stress, social anxiety, and obligations to make bubbly conversation with people you don’t altogether like. You’re overwhelmed. You’re irritable. You’re sad. You don’t want to go to that dumb party, you just want to stay home.

Sometimes, upon the onset of late-fall, especially in colder climates, depression sets in like a heavy fog, dampening everything it touches. You are profoundly sad and fatigued. You’re lonely and filled with self-reflection. You don’t want to get out of bed, much less fuss over which color scarf to buy your new sister-in-law. You cringe at the thought of the attention that the office party gift exchange will bring. You miss loved ones who’ve died. You miss your friends or family far away. Seasonal depression can be tough to navigate, but emotions tend to mend after the holidays are over and routines return to normal, as snow melts and rain slows and the sun shines.

Here are some tips for coping with holiday and seasonal depression:

  • Set realistic goals
  • As much as possible, keep your regular routines
  • Practice saying “no, thank you”
  • Focus on the things that really matter
  • Keep to your budget
  • Resist isolating
  • Get some exercise
  • Help those in need
  • Create a new tradition
  • Make time for yourself

And what if the holiday blues and seasonal depression don’t lift? What if symptoms of depression were there already and intensified over the holiday season? You can’t sleep. You sleep too much. You can’t eat. You eat too much. You drink too much. Your relationships are suffering. You’re distressed and distracted. You don’t want to go to work or school. You cannot concentrate. You almost always feel that gray haze hovering overhead, even on the better days, and there doesn’t seem to any real relief. If depression interferes with your activities of daily living, you may be suffering from a serious depressive disorder.

Depression can lead to or amplify self-harming behaviors, substance abuse, disordered eating, and other mental health challenges, but there’s no need to suffer with depression or co-occurring disorders, in any form or level of intensity. Recovery is possible. You can heal and feel better. Call today – we’re here to help.

Haven Hills Recovery – Trauma Informed Care for Women