‘Holiday blues’ is real disorder and not a myth

Don’t dismiss those ‘bad feelings’

Merdies Hayes Managing Editor | 12/5/2019, midnight

Whether you call them the “holiday blues,” “Christmas blues” or the more clinical term “Seasonal Affective Disorder” (SAD), onset depression and anxiety this time of year is a very real thing that strikes your loved ones, friends, coworkers...and maybe yourself.

There are many factors that can cause the depressed, stressed, fatigued, down-and-out bad feelings that many people experience over the holidays. In order to effectively resolve yourself to overcome the holiday blues, the American Psychological Association (APA) attests that you need to know how this unwanted feeling affects you.

While there is no one universal solution—since what is depressing or stressful for one person may not be for someone else—you should know that the individual person may have deep-seated feelings that they’ve been carrying around for many, many years. First of all, pay attention to your specific issues and situation. The holiday blues are so obvious that people tend to either focus on “how bad” they are feeling or place the focus on avoiding the “bad feelings.” Unfortunately, neither tactic is usually helpful in resolving the issues, and could make things worse.

The holidays are supposed to be a time of happiness, good cheer, joy and fellowship with loved ones and friends. It’s usually a time of optimistic hopes for the coming new year. During the holiday season, we are bombarded and often inundated with reminders of the holidays. These “reminders,” according to the APA, can be a trigger for several unresolved issues such as:

—Past losses

—Unresolved grief

—Anticipating a significant loss

—Contrast between “then and now”

–Disappointment about “now”

—Contrast between an “image” of holiday joy and the reality of one’s life

—A sense of increased isolation and loneliness

The holiday season is also a busier and more stressful time. People usually have more things to do, more stuff to buy, more traffic, parking is difficult to find, stores are crowded and, consequently, we have to wait longer. The extra demands of your time, attention, energy and—most certainly—finances can be very stressful, all of which can be a precursor to the holiday blues.

Experts suggest that if your holiday blues are a manifestation of the stress from all of the extra demands of the season, you should do something to reduce the demands on your time. Rethink how you view and approach the holidays. Review your beliefs about what is expected of you. Of course, your older family relatives and in-laws may expect a little something from you (particularly if it is generally recognized as a tradition), but do you really have to buy gifts for all of those people?

Try to find a more meaningful way of giving that is less demanding of you. The APA suggests you keep in mind your ability to satisfy all of your family and friends, without over-stressing neither your piece of mind nor your pocketbook.

The latest statistics from the APA indicate that about 14 percent of Americans experience some form of holiday blues. The most common form of this malady, based on APA findings, is called “amplified depression.” Among the symptoms are: