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Holiday Blues

The holiday season can be a stressful and even sad time for some people, which may be caused by unrealistic expectations.

Some people experience the “holiday blues” during this time of year.  This feeling of being “let down” is fairly common, says Jill Koester, psychotherapist at SIU School of Medicine in Springfield.  She explains some possible causes of the blue feeling. 

SOUND BITE:  “It can be loneliness.  It can be sadness . . . I think especially during the holidays if there has been a loss over the course of the year or an illness, relationship issues, any of those issues seem to be emphasized during the holiday times because there is this picture of a perfect time period and traditions that are upheld usually with the same people.”

In addition to financial stresses and some people not having much family around, Koester says holiday blues can be influenced by other things such as bad weather, shortened daylight hours and lack of sleep.  She advises people to modify their holiday expectations, relax and not expect everything to be perfect.   She offers some tips to help those who experience these feelings.

SOUND BITE:  “If a family member is feeling blue or down, it is helpful for the other family member to support that person, of course, by being with them, helping them out.  To help yourself, oftentimes helping others in that way or by volunteering can be a good way to get into the holiday spirit.” 

Koester says a blue feeling should last only a few weeks, but it could develop into a more serious condition if these symptoms continue.  For serious depression, she recommends seeing a family doctor or mental health counselor for an evaluation and possible treatment.

This is Ruth Slottag, at SIU School of Medicine in Springfield.