PHOENIX, Ariz. (Dec. 19, 2022) - This can either be the most wonderful time of the year, or the worst. For many, it’s a time to gather and share the holidays with loved ones. But for others, it could involve a battle with depression and anxiety.
According to Dr. Jerimya Fox, director of Banner Behavioral Health Outpatient Services, this type of mental distress, otherwise known as the “holiday blues,” is not uncommon for many people to experience during the season. Typically, Dr. Fox says he and his colleagues see an increase of patients seeking help with their mental health.
Normally, what we see plastered across media during the holidays are smiles of people giving and receiving gifts or gathering with family and friends to enjoy a bountiful holiday feast. Someone suffering with depression or anxiety may seem perfectly fine to their friends and loved ones. However, behind those laughs and smiles, some may be masking depression as they battle something more serious.
“Many people use this ‘holiday façade’ as a masking agent,” said Dr. Fox. “This is to prevent others from recognizing those symptoms. However, from an individual perspective, we want to be aware of our mood fluctuations.”
Not everyone feels depressed or anxious during the holidays. Some people may do perfectly fine. The holidays tend to help us escape from the realities of everyday life, with family and events that may make us happy. But once all that merriment ends, Dr. Fox says people can fall into a post-holiday depression.
“Sometimes after the holidays ‘the holiday blues' can continue,” said Dr. Fox. “I would suggest focusing your thoughts on positive gratitude and self-reflection. This will allow an individual to reflect positively throughout year and not just around the holiday season. Gratitude reflection is a healthy coping skill to address depression and anxiety.”
So, what signs and symptoms might signal you or a loved one is experiencing the holiday or post-holiday blues? A few include:
- Severe mood changes
- Weight fluctuations
- Social withdraw
- Difficulty sleeping
- Tendency to increase and abuse certain things, such as food, alcohol, drugs, smoking
If you’re experiencing some of these signs and symptoms, experts suggest the following:
- Give yourself a break from electronic devices, such as your cell phone and from social media
- Recharge – plan and think ahead of the future and what you would like to accomplish in the New Year
- Show yourself some gratitude for things that matter, such as your health, family, friends, loved ones, etc.
If these tips don’t fully help you or a loved one feel better, Dr. Fox says it’s important to seek professional help before things get worse and out of control.
Banner Behavioral Health Hospital is part of nonprofit Banner Health. Located in Scottsdale, Arizona, Banner Behavioral Health offers safe, confidential and compassionate treatments for adults, adolescent teens and children facing mental health and substance-abuse challenges. Its nonprofit services are located throughout the Phoenix metropolitan area for those who need help with psychiatric and addiction issues. For more information, visit bannerhealth.com/bannerbehavioral.