A frequent complaint of patients in my office this time of year is something they call Seasonal Depression. This is a very real diagnosis and many people suffer from it. What I find, though, is many people who self-diagnose as Seasonal Depression are really experiencing a post-holiday emotional slump. Regardless of whatever holiday you may celebrate (religious or otherwise) there are a number of celebrations that occur during November and December each year. Due to these celebrations, we are disgustingly busy during this 6-8 week period and are often running from one social event to another. By the time we get to catch our breath, it’s the beginning of January. Now, if you live anywhere besides the Southernmost states or California, it is also a time of bitter cold and related household lockdown.
For most of us, after the excitement of New Year’s, there isn’t much new coming up until Valentine’s Day (and the emotional whiplash THAT holiday causes). I call this the post-holiday slump. We have been so busy with November and December that we don’t know what to do with ourselves and all our current free time. There is also, often, little to look forward to. This is my recommendation. Create things to look forward to. Plan a vacation. Schedule a meet-up with friends. Put a massage on the books. Find something to give you some excitement.
Post-holiday slump is typically short in duration – a few weeks, a month maybe. If you find it is lasting too long or the symptoms are too difficult for you to manage on your own or if you consider doing anything to hurt yourself or anyone else – get help immediately. Do not walk, run to your nearest mental health professional – in a pinch, call 911 or go to the local Emergency Room so you can get immediate help. You do what you can to manage your symptoms, but there is never any shame in needing help.