Eskenazi Health provides advice for defeating the dreaded “Winter Blues”

Indianapolis, Dec. 4, 2019 – The Christmas and New Year’s holidays are one of the most joyful times of the year for most of us, but unfortunately, some find themselves unable to enjoy the festivities due to feelings of depression, sadness, or isolation.

If you experience those feelings ordinarily, the holidays may intensify those emotions due to seasonal factors that include a lack of sunlight, shopping pressures, family issues and setting unrealistic expectations during the holidays. Seasonal affective disorder (SAD), which is a type of depression that's related to changes in seasons, may add to the intense feelings of sadness and despair this time of year.

All of these catalysts and others can trigger a syndrome known as the winter or holiday blues, and it’s of the utmost importance to realize when those symptoms evolve into major depression or anxiety, which many people suffer from.

“Extended feelings of intense sadness can be overwhelming and cause for great concern especially during the holiday season, and we want everyone to know that we’re here to help with those serious concerns,” said Dr. Ashley Overley, CEO of the Sandra Eskenazi Mental Health Center. “Our staff is experienced and highly-skilled in applying a wide variety of treatments to battle these aggravating and harmful symptoms, and the Sandra Eskenazi Mental Health Center is dedicated to providing the best possible care for all our patients.”

About 5 percent of adults in the U.S. experience SAD and it typically lasts about 40 percent of the year. It is more common among women than men, and found more often in people living far from the equator where there are fewer daylight winter hours.

Here are some helpful ways to deal with stress and anxiety during and after the holiday season:

•             Keeping expectations manageable and setting realistic goals.


•             Make the effort to set aside differences with friends and family members.


•             Set aside holiday planning worries by scheduling specific days for shopping, baking, visiting friends and family, and other activities.


•             Be willing to acknowledge your feelings and reach out to others.


•             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 the Sandra Eskenazi Mental Health Center 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 catalyst for certain anxiety disorders and other illnesses. In addition, post-holiday blues can also develop after the hustle and bustle of the holidays wane and families return to their homes, leaving older relatives alone.

Depression is revealed through loss of enjoyment in daily activities, loss of sleep and appetite, feeling sad or empty, guilt, and even thoughts of dying or suicide. Stress can also be a very serious health issue with symptoms including headaches, upset stomach, heart palpitations and nervousness. Dr. Overley said that if left untreated, depression can lead to decline in functioning at school or work, social withdrawal, and potentially even suicidal thoughts or behavior. It is important to know that there are effective treatments available for depression.

The Sandra Eskenazi Mental Health Center 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, and specialized home-and community-based programs for children and adolescents with serious emotional disorders. For more information about the services offered at the Sandra Eskenazi Mental Health Center at Eskenazi Health, please visit


CONTACT: Tom Surber
Phone: 317.880.4793
Cell: 317.402.9327


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