Holiday Blues


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Sandra A. Doron LCSW

Dear Sandra:

Perhaps this is not the appropriate place to address my issue because I am single, and am not in a relationship at this time. The holiday season is here, and once again I know that I will be feeling depressed, as I do every year, especially during the month before Christmas, and even into January. I know I should be full of energy and joy at this time, but I actually feel the opposite. HOLIDAY BLUES

Dear Holiday Blues:

Thank you for writing to me, and sharing your feelings with others. This is a great place to address your concerns because so many others feel the way you do. The fact that you are not in a relationship at this time makes the holiday season especially difficult. We think of the holidays as a time full of joy, parties, and family gatherings. We think of what we “should” be feeling, how joyful other people must be, what our lives “could have been” and “might have been.” You may be worried about finances. You may be feeling disappointed or angry with people who have let you down. However, because it is Christmas, we try to put these thoughts out of our minds, and we are often able to do so, but then feel even more depressed than we do during the rest of the year, and even more anxious about the future. It is important to keep in mind that those who seem to be so joyful, those who are decorating their homes and baking and entertaining, may not be as joyful as they appear. They may appear to you to be full of energy, conveying joy to the world. However, this may be only a mask to cover up what is really inside.

Here are some ideas that could be helpful during this time:

1. Try something new—like a change of scenery. If you like the desert or the mountains, plan to spend time in a new environment. Christmas Day can be celebrated in innovative ways, with one good friend, who would like to do something different as well. Plan this day together, and make it meaningful with special holiday rituals and food.

2. Call people you haven’t spoken to or seen for some time. Reach out to others, and let them know you care about them.

3. Do something for someone else. You will be amazed how good you feel if you can volunteer your time to help someone in need.

4. Initiate a holiday project , such as sending cards to soldiers stationed abroad.

5. Invite others to your home for Christmas. You’ll be amazed how many people would be thrilled to receive an invitation. Pot-lucks are great.

6. Put a little basket of candy or cookies out at work for an unexpected treat.

If you are angry or disappointed in friends or family, it is important to remember that they may not be capable of doing or reacting any better, and they may not know how to give to you or understand what you are needing and wanting from them. All of us are “flawed”, and the limitations in ourselves and others need to be understood and accepted. You may be thinking that this is easy to say and hard to do, and that is certainly true. Indeed most of us need to work throughout our lives on this area. If, however, you meet other people, especially relatives, where they are, and accept them with their limitations, you may find that you can re-connect and even re-establish relationships that you thought were lost forever. They may never be your best friends, but you may find peace within yourself, once you have given up your unrealistic expectations. Christmas is a great time to reconnect, forgive, and make amends with those whose relationship you want to keep.

The winter months are a period when many people suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). This is the result of fewer hours of sunlight as the days grow shorter. This “light deprivation” actually causes us to feel depressed. Light treatment is often effective in relieving depressive symptoms of SAD. Also, some people naturally are predisposed to clinical depression, independent of the season. Depression is treatable. Research demonstrates that usually the most effective treatment for depression is a combination of medication and talk therapy. As prevalent as holiday blues are, even more people experience post-holiday blues after January 1. If you find that your depression does not go away, you may need to seek professional help.


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This site was last updated 02/03/06