November 22, 2004
Charlotte, NC – As Thanksgiving starts off another holiday season, some will begin to experience the seasonal sadness and loneliness commonly called "the holiday blues."
"It's a phenomenon that we've all become more aware of over the years, said Dr. Elizabeth Peterson-Vita, clinical director for the Mecklenburg County Area Mental Health Authority (AMHA), a public agency that helps people with mental illness, substance abuse issues and developmental disabilities. "For some people, this time of the year brings feelings of stress and emotional upset. These feelings should not be taken lightly."
A number of factors can contribute to the holiday blues, including fatigue, unrealistic expectations, financial issues, family conflicts, plus hectic holiday schedules and demands
Peterson-Vita says there are some things you can do to prevent the holiday blues:
- Set realistic goals. Don't overwhelm yourself or demand perfection. Keep it simple.
- Set a realistic schedule. Don't allow yourself to be stretched too thin by other people's priorities and plans.
- Look toward the future. Don't constantly relive things that happened in the past. Look at possibilities for positive future change.
- Find a connection to your community. Take a chance and seek conversation with someone new. Visit the church you've driven by and always wondered about. Step out of your comfort zone.
- Do something for someone else. It will take your mind off your problems and focus your energy elsewhere.
- Limit alcohol intake. Alcohol can increase feelings of depression.
- Tell those who care about you how you feel. Be honest. It can help to talk.
If you know someone experiencing the holiday blues, there are some things you can do to help:
- Try to involve that person in activities, but don't be forceful.
- If someone confides in you, engage yourself and be a good listener.
- Help that person establish realistic goals.
- Know where to go for help.
"It's not unusual to feel "let down" after the holidays," Peterson-Vita said. "But if these feelings persist, you may want to consult a mental health professional."
HELP IS AVAILABLE: The Mecklenburg County Area Mental Health Authority serves county residents with limited financial resources and the most need. You can request services or obtain additional information by contacting the call center:
- 704-336-6404 (local)
- 1-877-700-3001 (toll-free)
- 704-432-3453 (fax)
- 704-432-3452 (TTY)