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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 Dr. Kathy Bottum, assistant professor of medicine psychiatry at SIU School of Medicine in Springfield.  She explains some possible causes of the blue feeling.

“... the holidays themselves are often very, very difficult for people.  Memories of past holidays with loved ones who are gone, existing conflicts with loved ones that are here, the pressures to have the perfect holiday experience, bake and shop and spend more money than you have ...”

In addition to some people missing loved ones and dealing with financial stresses, Dr. Bottum says bad weather, shortened daylight hours and lack of sleep can lead to holiday blues.  She advises people to modify their holiday expectations and relax.  She offers some tips for people who experience these feelings.

“... self care is very important, sort of maintaining as much as possible your normal life that is comfortable and taking time to get enough sleep, to exercise, to only drink in moderation, and to do things that are fun, that are relaxing and rewarding for yourself.”

Dr. Bottum 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.

Ruth Slottag