seasonal depression

Is Seasonal Depression Affecting You?

What To Do About The Holiday Blues?

seasonal depression

What are they and how do they affect us?

Many factors can lead to what we describe as the holidays blues: headaches, insomnia or sleeping too much, excessive worrying, difficulties concentrating, decreased interest in things that are normally enjoyable. They are usually transitory but sometimes they can trigger periods of feeling anxious and depressed that needs to be addressed with a therapist or psychiatrist. Many factors can lead to what we describe as the holidays blues: headaches, insomnia or sleeping too much, excessive worrying, difficulties concentrating, decreased interest in things that are normally enjoyable. They are usually transitory but sometimes they can trigger periods of feeling anxious and depressed that needs to be addressed with a therapist or psychiatrist.

Below, are some of the most common causes of these sad or anxious feelings around the holidays that affect what is supposed to be a time of joy and celebration. Below, are some of the most common causes of these sad or anxious feelings around the holidays that affect what is supposed to be a time of joy and celebration.

    1. Anniversaries of losses such as deaths, departures and breakups. Most people who lost the dear ones, either to death, illness, breakups or departures, anticipate the holidays as a time that instead of being happy, reminds them that their loved ones will not be around this time of the year. Family gatherings are vivid reminders of the person who is not present. Especially the first year after the loss, each holiday becomes an acute reliving of the painful feeling of separation and longing.

We recommend to our patients that they use these times to celebrate the life of their loved one, and reflect on the way they positively impacted the people that they left behind. By focusing on celebrating their lives rather than on the sad separation could help make the holiday times more bearable. We recommend to our patients that they use these times to celebrate the life of their loved one, and reflect on the way they positively impacted the people that they left behind. By focusing on celebrating their lives rather than on the sad separation could help make the holiday times more bearable.

    1. Remembering the happy times that are gone from the present is more common with people whose present lives are not ‘as happy’ as in the past with their departed loved one. Economic hardship, changed family dynamics and transitions through later stages of life can make these times difficult.

What we recommend is to try to spend as much time as possible with the remaining loved ones, focusing and cherishing the warmth and benefit of having healthy relationships, and on the positive light and influence in their lives.

    1. Seasonal depression is mostly seen in the parts of the world further away from the Equator. Some people are more sensitive to the diminished light during the winter months, which appears to decrease the internal brain production of serotonin.

We often suggest “light therapy” or phototherapy which is administered through light boxes which give off specific wavelengths of light, and are administered for a prescribed amount of time. Exposure to this light can result in reduced symptoms of decreased energy, increased appetite and drowsiness associated with this form of depression.  Providing light therapy through light boxes can reduce the symptoms of decreased energy, increased appetite and somnolence associated with this form of depression.

    1. Dealing with dysfunctional families. Some people anticipate with almost despair spending time with members of their family that they simply do not like, or have had previous, unhealed conflicts.

What we recommend is to attempt controlling only the things that can be controlled, such as the time and place where the gathering happen, keep any statements made to ‘I’ without assigning blame, and actively listening and avoiding ‘hot’ topics.

    1. Breakdown of routines during the holidays. Most people’s schedules becoming hectic and disorganized during the holidays, and neglect healthy routines such as exercising, eating healthy and allocating time for themselves.

What we recommend is to treat yourself first with a healthy regimen; avoid excessive consumption of alcohol or unhealthy foods, and keep a regular exercise and sleep schedule.

The bottom line is that the holidays do not have to be a time that causes you anxiety and sadness. Although some of this is natural, there are things you can do to lessen the severity.

For some people, taking the above steps is not enough, and there are other options that you can explore which include counseling, medication and other forms of intervention.
If you’d like to get some help in coping-please call us to set up a time to talk at 713.426.3100