The unfortunate thing about holidays and vacations is that they come to an end. We spend so much time preparing and planning for holidays that when they are over and done, we tend to feel a letdown. Without something to look forward to, many people begin to feel depressed.
January is a difficult month for those who suffer with depression. Once the Christmas tree has been taken down and the decorations put away and we head back to our normal work routine, things can start looking a little bleak. In addition, January days are shorter and the weather is cold and dreary in most areas of the country. The lack of sunlight contributes to depression. “The light actually affects our own body,” says Laurie Barnett Levine, a social worker. “People can feel like hibernating, especially when the holidays are over.” (1)
A licensed professional counselor, Judith Gusky, sees more people during the cold winter months. “[People realize that] they’re much more miserable than they are from April to the end of August. We are inside more, the days are shorter and our activity level is lower. Your whole attitude sinks during those months.” (1)
Know the Signs of Depression
It is important to know the signs of depression. In addition to the feelings of unexplained sadness, hopelessness, or pessimism, people with depression often experience difficulty concentrating or making decisions. They feel restless and can suffer from both insomnia and excessive sleeping. Aches and pains may be exaggerated, and stomach aches and digestive problems may become more frequent. Changes in appetite are common and some sufferers will lose weight, while others may overeat. They may feel an overwhelming feeling of guilt, emptiness, and fatigue.
Getting Help for Depression
Someone who suffers from depression needs to get professional help. A doctor can offer options of therapy, medication, and other ways to manage the depression. Patients usually improve and can even get back to living a normal life with the right kind of help. However, depression that goes untreated can escalate and lead to other mental health disorders and to suicidal thoughts.
In addition to treatment from a professional, people who suffer from holiday letdown or seasonal depression can help improve their symptoms at home. Focusing on healthy eating and proper exercise can make the body feel better and improve one’s mood. Getting plenty of sleep will alleviate some of the symptoms of depression and help the person manage better. Getting out and interacting with other people will also help. Light boxes or full spectrum lamps are beneficial to some people with seasonal depression, by providing the same effects as natural sunlight on the body. Finally, alcohol and illicit drugs should be avoided completely because they can compound the problems that are associated with depression and they make depression more difficult to treat.