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Holiday Blues

By Tefoni Mahon

            It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas….Elvis sang about it, but just how many of us out there will have a “blue Christmas” this year. Holiday blues is a depression that can affect anyone and cause a person to feel anxious or depressed around the winter holidays.  We all know there is more than 12 days of Christmas to endure and it’s no Winter Wonderland.  Many factors such as unrealistic expectations, financial pressures, inability to be with loved ones and excessive commitments can cause stress & anxiety.  So why not just let it snow?  Another cause of holiday blues is Seasonal Affective Disorder, which is a type of depression that is associated with the changing of the seasons.  Headaches, excessive drinking, overeating, and insomnia are some possible consequences of poorly managed holiday stress and can make you a mean one Mr. Grinch!

So how do we beat those holiday blues and get you rockin around the Christmas tree again?  The important thing first is to be able to recognize the symptoms:  feeling depressed most of the day-nearly every day, losing interest in activities you once enjoyed, having low energy, having problems with sleeping, experiencing changes in your appetite or weight, feeling sluggish or agitated, having difficulty concentrating, feeling hopeless, worthless or guilty, and having frequent thoughts of death or suicide.  Once you admit you got the blues than prepare for action:   set realistic expectations and goals for yourself, pace yourself-don’t take on more responsibilities then you can handle, live in the moment, you don’t need a lot of silver and gold-stay in a budget, exercise regularly, limit alcohol intake, take a trip, socialize-make friends, learn stress management, go outside, try music or art therapy, try relaxation techniques/guided imagery/meditation, try light therapy (photo therapy), seek counseling or visit a doctor and look into medicine you can try.  If contemplating suicide, please call the Altoona Crisis Hotline (814) 889-2011 or call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.  It’s the most wonderful time of the year so whether you’ll be home for Christmas or away, you can beat the holiday blues.  We wish you a Merry Christmas!