01-12 Coping with post-holiday blues

Posted in Depression, Mental Illness, Stress

Coping with post-holiday blues

Low-grade to major depression is a common occurrence after the holidays. Studies show that approximately 25 percent of Americans suffer from the holiday blues. And once they kick in, they don’t leave us plenty of room for coping.

Dr. Angelos Halaris, professor of psychiatry and behavioral neurosciences at Loyola University in Illinois, says there are legitimate reasons for this. “For many, the holiday season is like a dream world and hopefully people have had a good dream, but it is like a dream that ceases literally overnight,” Halaris told CNN. “There is a real sense of loss that comes with this transition period that makes us all a little sad.”

Luckily, there are ways to make patients feel more at ease.


Psychologist and family counselor Marie Hartwell-Walker, Ed.D., notes that socializing is an important factor that can help reduce holiday depression. The hustle and bustle of holidays usually stops abruptly and that causes us to feel lonely and stressed.

Merily Keller, founding board member of the Texas Suicide Prevention Council, believes that being surrounded by loved ones during and after the holidays have a significant impact on handling depression. Stressing on the importance of social connections, Keller points out an important fact that due to the bonding with family and friends during the holidays, depression and suicide rate go down. Therefore, keep the communication alive and refrain from conversations about the holiday aftermath.

Avoid alcohol

The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) in its overview of depression clearly states that excessive alcohol consumption can lead to major depression. Alcohol is part of today’s culture, especially during times of celebrations and holidays. However, continuing drinking after the holidays are over can negatively influence the balance of neurotransmitters in the brain and trigger depression, as the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism points out. Although, alcohol might seem like a good idea and a temporary solution, it’s a one-way ticket to feeling even more depressed. Avoid consuming alcohol heavily, or binge drinking, which is quite common right after the holidays are over. Focus on finding other alternatives to feel more comfortable and happy.

Forget the past

As far as forgetting the past is concerned, NIMH firmly believes that holding on to regrets and mistakes and not letting go of negative feelings and experiences can lead to depression. One should rather focus on the present and accept that life brings changes, especially if your holiday expectations fell through. “People have this anticipation or fantasy of the holiday that you would see on TV,” psychiatrist Dr. Mark Sichel, author of Healing From Family Rifts, told The Huffington Post. On the note of holiday blues and letting go, Dr. Sichel added that ‘’being bogged down by perfectionism” can contribute to feeling down. Forget the past and focus on the present. Take care of yourself, especially when the holidays are over.

Eat healthy

Ronald Duman, professor of psychiatry and neurobiology at Yale University, claims that people with chronic stress tend to overeat and contribute to their depression. The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases claims that majority of people binge eat during the holidays. However, individuals who keep binge eating after the holidays experience stress and depression, and become unhappy with their own choices. These habits usually turn into a disorder that keeps on ‘feeding’ your depression.

If you or a loved one is fighting depression, it is important to seek help immediately. The Depression Treatment Centers of California can provide referrals to mental health professionals specializing in depression, including anxiety and other mental illnesses. Reach out to us today for help at 855-678-040.

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