Help for Holiday Blues
The ‘Holiday Blues’ or Something: Green Country is Here to Help
For most, the holidays are a time for celebration and joy. It can also be a difficult time for some as stress and other worries can bring about a depressed mood. While we may discount this as the “holiday blues,” the resulting symptoms can be disruptive to daily activities. Left unaddressed, they can become something more.
Holiday blues are a set of symptoms including depression and anxiety that occur during the holiday season. They are usually distinguished from full clinical psychiatric diagnoses such as major depressive disorder, generalized anxiety disorder or seasonal affective disorder. Symptoms are usually short-lived, and often easily resolved through self-care.
However, should symptoms persist, it is time to reach out for help before turning into something more serious.
Green Country Behavioral Health Services wants you to know that they are here to help, whether experiencing early signs of depression or anxiety, or other behavioral health concerns. GCBHS offers a range of mental health and substance use treatment services to address any level of illness along with additional supports for all Oklahomans and their families. These services are available for both adults and children, and provided regardless of a person’s ability to pay.
GCBHS is part of a statewide network of treatment providers that are funded in part by the Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services. Services are free for those who qualify or can be made available on a sliding scale. Medicaid is accepted as are many major insurance plans.
If you are concerned about yourself or a loved-one, reach out today to learn more about care options. Contact us at 918-682-8407. We are part of this community, and we are here for you.
WHAT EXACTLY ARE THE HOLIDAY BLUES?
Holiday blues are a set of symptoms including depression and anxiety that occur during the holiday season. Holiday blues are usually distinguished from full clinical psychiatric diagnoses such as major depressive disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, or seasonal affective disorder, which have specific diagnostic criteria in terms of the type and duration of symptoms. However, holiday blues can cause some of the symptoms that can be seen in these disorders.
The main symptoms of holiday blues impact your mood and demeanor:
Depressed or irritable mood: You may feel less happy than usual, and may easily feel upset or discouraged.
Feeling more tired than usual: You may have less energy than you usually do.
Feelings of worthlessness or guilt: You may feel guilty about not spending enough time with friends and family, or you may feel worthless when comparing yourself to others.
Loss of pleasure or interest in doing things that you used to enjoy
Feeling tense, worried, or anxious: You may be worried about specific things, or feel like you are worried all the time without having specific things to worry about.
Change in appetite or weight: Either an increase or decrease in appetite with a corresponding weight gain or weight loss.
Change in sleep patterns: Either an inability to fall asleep or stay asleep (insomnia) or feeling the need to sleep excessively.
Difficulty concentrating: You may feel like you are in a mental fog.
Thoughts of hurting oneself or suicide: Holiday blues alone usually do not cause thoughts of self-harm or suicide. However, if this occurs, it could be a sign of a more serious psychiatric condition that can be treated with the guidance of a professional psychiatrist and/or therapist. It also has been rumored that suicide rates are higher around the holiday season, which actually isn’t true.
Holiday Blues Causes
Increased social demands: Increased social demands during the holidays can create stress and lead to symptoms of holiday blues. These demands can leave little time to take care of yourself, leading to decreased self-care, which can exacerbate holiday blues symptoms.
Excess eating and alcohol use: Excess eating and alcohol use during the holidays can lead to symptoms of holiday blues. Excess eating and weight gain can worsen one’s self-image and make one feel guilty about a lack of self-control. In addition, alcohol use can exacerbate psychiatric symptoms, especially in people with a history of an underlying psychiatric disorder.
Lack of sleep: Busy holiday schedules and activities can lead to a lack of sleep, which increases stress and can lead to symptoms of anxiety and depression.
Unrealistic expectations about oneself: The holidays can create unrealistic expectations about yourself that can lead to feelings of depression and anxiety if you perceive you are falling behind. For example, meeting other people who appear to be more successful can lead you to feel bad about your own achievements. In addition, many holiday movies and stories show images of perfectly happy lives and families that may not be realistic but can lead you to feel unsatisfied with your own situation.
Preventing The Holiday Blues
Speak with a friend or loved one: People who experience symptoms of holiday blues sometimes withdraw, but this can exacerbate symptoms by creating feelings of loneliness. Speaking with a friend or loved one can help you process your feelings and connect you with sources of support.
Set realistic goals and expectations and stick to a plan: Setting realistic goals and expectations can mitigate some of the stress that leads to the holiday blues. For example, you should be realistic about how much time and money you can spend on others, and don’t be afraid to say no if you feel over-extended.
Create time for yourself: It is important to create time for yourself to de-stress and recharge. Allow time for things you enjoy and let yourself say no to others to accommodate it.
Limit excessive eating and alcohol intake: Limiting excessive eating and alcohol intake can help avoid some of the symptoms that these behaviors can cause.
See a mental healthcare provider: If you are experiencing symptoms of holiday blues, or more serious symptoms such as thoughts of suicide, you should consider seeing a mental healthcare provider such as a psychiatrist or a therapist. If your symptoms are consistent with a clinical disorder such as major depression, you may benefit from antidepressant medications and/or psychotherapy.
Risk Factors for Suicide: Risk factors are characteristics that make it more likely that someone will consider, attempt, or die by suicide. They can’t cause or predict a suicide attempt, but they’re important to be aware of.
- Mental disorders, particularly mood disorders, schizophrenia, anxiety disorders, and certain personality disorders
- Alcohol and other substance use disorders
- Impulsive and/or aggressive tendencies
- History of trauma or abuse
- Major physical illnesses
- Previous suicide attempt(s)
- Family history of suicide
- Job or financial loss
- Loss of relationship(s)
- Easy access to lethal means
- Lack of social support and sense of isolation
- Stigma associated with asking for help
- Lack of healthcare, especially mental health and substance abuse treatment
- Cultural and religious beliefs, such as the belief that suicide is a noble resolution of a personal dilemma
- Exposure to others who have died by suicide (in real life or via the media and Internet)
Warning Signs: Some warning signs may help you determine if a loved one is at risk for suicide, especially if the behavior is new, has increased, or seems related to a painful event, loss, or change. If you or someone you know exhibits any of these, seek help by calling the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.
- Talking about wanting to die or to kill themselves
- Looking for a way to kill themselves, like searching online or buying a gun
- Talking about feeling hopeless or having no reason to live
- Talking about feeling trapped or in unbearable pain
- Talking about being a burden to others
- Increasing the use of alcohol or drugs
- Acting anxious or agitated, or behaving recklessly
- Sleeping too little or too much
- Withdrawing or isolating
- Showing rage or talking about seeking revenge
- Extreme mood swings