Have you ever heard of the “holiday blues”? If you find yourself more depressed this time of year when everyone else seems to be merry and bright – you aren’t alone. During the holiday season – loosely defined as the period between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day – many medical professionals see an uptick in depression, especially among seniors.
We encounter many stressors during the holidays that can negatively impact our moods. These stressors, combined with seasonal affective disorder, can result in serious depression. Signs of depression may include changes in appetite, an increase in anxiety, fatigue, and lack of motivation. If you find that all of your joy this year has been replaced with anger, worry, and sadness, it may be time to reach out for some help.
All of us feel pressure during the holidays due to unrealistic expectations about our families, social position, and even our own lack of holiday cheer! Try to avoid drinking in excess this time of year, which can worsen your depression. Ensure that you are getting enough exercise. Exercise has been shown to reduce anxiety and boost mood. Make an effort to get outside in the sun whenever you can, as more exposure to the sun during these short winter days can make you feel less sluggish.
Holiday depression may also be associated with a feeling of uselessness. To overcome this, look for volunteer opportunities, sign up for workshop, or join a new fitness class. The more you can get out and socialize with others, the better you’ll feel.
Finally, if you are feeling alone and depressed this holiday season, don’t be afraid to reach out to a friend, a loved one, a caregiver, or your medical professional for additional help. While it may not feel like the most wonderful time of the year right now, getting professional help now can help ensure that you feel merrier for the remainder of the year, and in the years to come.