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

Indianapolis, Dec. 13, 2017

Many experience anxiety and loneliness during and after the holiday season

For many of us, mid-December through early January means a glorious time of happiness and excitement while enjoying the annual holiday season with family, friends and co-workers. However, for many of us, this stretch of time through the holidays and during the winter season intensifies desperate feelings of sadness, depression and loneliness.

Those feelings combined with a lack of sunlight, shorter days, financial concerns, time pressures, family problems and setting expectations too high, may all lead to what many call the winter or holiday blues. A variety of influences can lead to this condition and it’s critically important to realize when those symptoms become a sign of major depression or anxiety, which occurs for many people.

Seasonal affective disorder (SAD), a type of depression that occurs at the same time annually, can also result in depression and feeling “blue” throughout the winter months. 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.

“It’s important not to dismiss ongoing feelings of depression and sadness that disrupt your functioning as something that you feel you just have to live with,” said Dr. Ashley Overley, CEO of Eskenazi Health Midtown Community Mental Health. “There are many readily available treatments that can help people overcome symptoms of SAD or depression.”

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

  • 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 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 symptoms to watch for 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 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.

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.



For nearly 160 years, Eskenazi Health has provided high-quality, cost-effective, patient-centered health care to the residents of Marion County and Central Indiana. Accredited by The Joint Commission, nationally recognized programs include a Level I trauma center, regional burn center, comprehensive senior care program, women’s and children’s services, teen and adolescent care programs, Eskenazi Health Midtown Community Mental Health, and a network of primary care sites located throughout the neighborhoods of Indianapolis known as Eskenazi Health Center. In partnership with the Regenstrief Institute, Eskenazi Health conducts groundbreaking work that informs health information technology around the globe. Eskenazi Health also serves as the sponsoring hospital for Indianapolis Emergency Medical Services. As the public hospital division of the Health and Hospital Corporation of Marion County (HHC), Eskenazi Health partners with the Indiana University School of Medicine whose physicians provide a comprehensive range of primary and specialty care services. In December 2013, Eskenazi Health moved to its new main campus and opened the brand new Sidney & Lois Eskenazi Hospital. The new modern and efficient facility is Central Indiana’s first Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED®) Gold health care campus and offers unique features like a one-of-a-kind sky farm and extensive art collection. 

CONTACT: Tom Surber
Phone: 317.880.4793
Cell: 317.402.9327
Pager: 317.310.5972

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