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

SOUND BITE:    “I think people do have expectations during the holiday season.  They expect time with family and friends and they often are reminded of what’s missing in their life, such as relationships with living relatives or those who have died.”

In addition to some people missing loved ones and dealing with financial stresses, Dr. Shea 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.

SOUND BITE:   “I think we need to not expect things to be perfect because they never are and that people should go easy on themselves.  Avoid comparing yourself to other people.  Keep things simple.  Take care of yourself and those around you.  Get enough rest and exercise.”

Dr. Shea 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.