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From Medicineworld.org: people with holiday blues see red

Personality disorders Chronic fatigue syndrome Cluster headaches  

people with holiday blues see red


The solution to the holiday blues seems obvious to people who love this time of year. "Just cheer up," they say. "Just get into the holiday spirit.".

If only shaking the holiday blues was "just" that easy, said Dr. Jon Allen, senior psychologist at The Menninger Clinic and professor of psychiatry in the Menninger Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Baylor College of Medicine. He refers to the word "just" as the "j-word.".

"Just is a criticism," Allen said. "If you say to someone who has the holiday blues, 'Just cheer up,' it is actually going to make that person more upset.".

The j-word minimizes a person's sad or down feelings and the effort it takes to overcome them, he said. People often feel sad or blue during the holidays because the season doesn't live up to their expectations.

"We all have fantasies that the holidays should be glorious and fulfilling," Allen said. "Some people may have an idyllic experience. For most people, however, the holidays will fall short of expectations. This year they will fall extremely short for a number of people who are dealing with the aftermath of hurricanes Katrina and Rita. They have reason to feel badly.".

In some cases, people cannot tolerate a friend or family member being unhappy during what they believe is supposed to be the happiest time of year. They may use the j-word to try to spur action and good feelings in someone who is feeling blue. 'Just get out of the house,' they say, or 'You just need to have some fun.'.

A better approach is to invite your friend or loved one to spend time with you. People who are feeling depressed seek seclusion and avoid the company of others. However, low-key activities can help elevate their mood.

"People who are feeling sad appreciate any effort you make to engage them, like asking them out for coffee, because it activates them," Allen said. "They don't have the steam to do it on their own. With encouragement they can do it.".

Allen offers tips to help a friend or loved one with the holiday blues:

  • Take them out. Invite your friend or loved one to a low-key activity, like a movie or small dinner with close friends. Big parties may be too stressful for a person who is feeling down and pressured to put on a happy face.
  • Listen. Without giving advice, concentrate on listening to the feelings and concerns of your friend or loved one. "Remember, don't admonish them to cheer up or put pressure on them to change their mood," Allen said.
  • Give a gentle push when necessary. While you can't change your friends or loved ones' behavior or mood, you have some influence with the person. Don't give up trying to help.

"Being with people who are feeling down and listening to them is really the most helpful thing, period," Allen said. "Depression tends to create isolation, so spend some holiday time together.".

If your friend or loved one's holiday blues don't go away after the holidays, it may be a sign of something more serious that requires professional help.

"There is a difference between having depressed feelings, which are temporary, and being ill with depression," Allen said. "The diagnosis of depression is based on at least two weeks of persistent symptoms of depression, which include depressed mood, problems eating and sleeping and diminished interest or pleasure in activities and friends."

Other symptoms of depression include significant decrease or increase in weight or appetite, insomnia or sleeping too much, loss of energy, feelings of worthlessness or excessive guilt, difficulty thinking or concentrating and recurrent thoughts of death or suicidal thinking or behavior.


Did you know?
The solution to the holiday blues seems obvious to people who love this time of year. "Just cheer up," they say. "Just get into the holiday spirit.".If only shaking the holiday blues was "just" that easy, said Dr. Jon Allen, senior psychologist at The Menninger Clinic and professor of psychiatry in the Menninger Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Baylor College of Medicine. He refers to the word "just" as the "j-word.".

Medicineworld.org: people with holiday blues see red

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