The holidays might seem like a time when worries can be put aside and people can relax, take time off from work and enjoy the season.
Unfortunately, this is not the case for many as stress, anxiety and even depression can often take over when the holiday season comes around.
When you add everything up, shorter days, financial concerns, loneliness, time pressures, family problems and setting expectations too high can all lead to what many term is the “holiday blues.” Seasonal affective disorder (SAD), a type of depression that occurs at the same time every year, can also result in depression and feeling “blue” during the winter months.
Some ways to cope with the stress of the holiday season include:
• Keeping expectations manageable and setting realistic goals.
• Doing something for someone else such as volunteering at a shelter or wrapping an elderly person’s holiday gifts.
• Enjoying activities that are free.
• Spending time with supportive and caring people.
• Saving time for yourself.
• Limiting alcohol consumption.
Mental health experts from Midtown Community Mental Health Center, acknowledge that some level of stress is normal during the holidays, but suggest when someone feels overwhelmed for an extended time help should be sought. Chronic stress may be a trigger for certain anxiety disorders and other illnesses.
In addition, post-holiday blues can also develop after the hustle and bustle of the holidays subsides and families return to their homes leaving older relatives alone.
Symptoms of depression include: loss of enjoyment in daily activities, sleep disruption, loss of appetite, feeling sad or empty, guilt, and even thoughts of dying or suicide. Stress can also be a very serious health issue. Headaches, upset stomach, heart palpitations, and nervousness are all symptoms of stress. Julie Szempruch, a mental health expert, said that when left untreated, stress can also cause confusion, poor judgment, digestive problems and a suppressed immune system.
“It is important for people to take a step back and put things in perspective. This seems to be especially important during the holiday season. With all the news about the economy being in trouble, it might also be wise to cut back and not overextend yourself,” said Szempruch, associate vice president for Midtown Community Mental Health Center, a division of Wishard Health Services. “The holidays are typically seen as this wonderful time to be with family and friends, but when it doesn’t live up to this, it can result in feeling depressed or overwhelmed.”
Midtown Community Mental Health Center was established in 1969 as the first mental health center in Indiana. Midtown’s philosophy of care stresses strength-based, family- and community-centered treatment. Care decisions are team-based and emphasize family and patient participation.
For more information about the services offered at Midtown Community Mental Health Center, call (317) 630-7791.