Post Holiday Blues – Winter Months Following the Holidays Can Trigger Depression and Anxiety

Jan 14, 2020 | Behavioral Health, Mental Health, News

Signs to look out for in children, teens and adults susceptible to depression and anxiety. Tips on how to avoid stress and triggers now that the holidays are over.

For many people, the holiday season is a time filled with parties, presents, traditions and memories with family and friends. For others, the obligations, family dynamics and memories will cause sadness, trigger stress and exacerbate depression.

“Holidays bring out stress in people,” states Denise Smith, Clinical Director for Case Management and Access Services of Coleman Professional Services, a behavioral health provider for Portage County, Stark County, Jefferson County and other regions across Ohio.

“We see it every year,” Smith says. “The complicated family dynamics, high expectations, gift lists, the expenses, all can trigger stress, sadness, anger and other emotions. Being down during the holidays should not just be written off as being a humbug.”

While it’s okay to be on the lookout for end-of-season bargains, mental health professionals want the public to also watch for signs of depression and anxiety in friends and loved ones during this time of year.

The signs include dark, erratic moods or mood swings, feelings of loneliness, talk of self harm, excessive crying and irritability, poor sleep habits, fatigue, loss of appetite, inability to concentrate, weight gain or loss, and others.

Those seriously concerned should direct the person to seek help or additional information from behavioral health professionals or a crisis line. The Coleman Professional Services 24/7 hotline provides support, recommendations and next-step referrals in each of our regional locations (locate the number for each county here).

When it comes to mental health, what makes the holidays different than the rest of the year?

Many feel down during the holidays, not just people with clinical depression and anxiety. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), shopping and gift-buying cause financial stress and emotional stress. Add to this, the cultural pressure to compare ourselves to idealized versions of perfect families with perfect holiday dinners and celebrations. Children are especially vulnerable to comparing themselves to their peers’ families – or at least what they perceive them to be.

“We provide counseling to many children,” states Rose Raveaux, also a Clinical Director at Coleman Professional Services. “The disruption to their school schedule during a long holiday break can add additional stress.”

Coleman clinicians treat children, teens and adults with: ADHD, Depression, OCD and anxiety, eating disorders, self-injuries, disruptive behavior disorders, and other conditions.

Behavioral health professionals like those at Coleman recommend several tips to prevent holiday stress:

  • Be realistic – families don’t have to be perfect. Strive for civility, not ideal perfection.
  • Stick to your budget – money doesn’t buy happiness.
  • Don’t force yourself to feel happy – just because everyone is still riding the holiday highs doesn’t mean your regular, everyday feelings will just go away.
  • Seek help if you need it – if you, or someone you love, feel depressed or suffer from anxiety, ask questions and seek help.

Recognizing and getting help could turn out to be the best gift of all.