Holiday Season Brings Deep Sense of Anxiety and Sadness to Many - Eskenazi Health

Eskenazi Health provides advice on beating the dreaded “Winter Blues”

Indianapolis, Dec. 19, 2016 – So many of us look forward to the joy and excitement brought on by the holiday season, but for many individuals late December early January and the remainder of the winter season brings an overwhelming sense of despair, misery and depression.  

When combining lack of sunlight, shorter days, financial concerns, loneliness, time pressures, family problems and setting expectations too high, it can all lead to what many call the “winter blues.” A variety of factors can lead to the winter blues, but it’s also important to realize when these symptoms are a sign of major depression or anxiety. 

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. It’s estimated that SAD affects up to 20 percent of Americans, and that number could increase this year following the contentious November elections.
“It’s important for all of us to keep everything in perspective and that’s especially vital during the holiday season and winter months,” said Julie Szempruch, RN, a mental health specialist and associate vice president at Eskenazi Health Midtown Community Mental Health. "Many of us enter the holiday season with high expectations and when they don’t come to fruition it creates an overwhelming sense of depression. However, there are things that can be done to combat those feelings.”

Some ways to cope with stress during and after 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.
  • Stay active and hit the gym to relieve stress and gain powerful endorphins.
  • Enjoying activities that are free.
  • Spending time with supportive and caring people.
  • Saving time for yourself.
  • Limiting alcohol consumption.

Mental health experts from Eskenazi Health Midtown acknowledge that some level of stress is normal but suggest that when someone feels overwhelmed for an extended period of 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 subside 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. Szempruch said that when left untreated, stress can also cause confusion, poor judgment, digestive problems and a suppressed immune system.

Eskenazi Health Midtown was established in 1969 as the first mental health center in Indiana and offers an array of mental health services, including severe mental illness and substance abuse treatment, 24-hour emergency services, a detoxification unit, a full continuum of care for people with chronic addiction, specialized home- and community-based programs for children and adolescents with serious emotional disorders, and a partial-hospitalization program.  For more information about the services offered at Eskenazi Health Midtown, please call 317.880.8491.

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CONTACT: Tom Surber
Phone: 317.880.4793
Pager: 317.310.5972 
Email: thomas.surber@eskenazihealth.edu