Post-Holiday Monday May Trigger Seasonal Depression

lantern on winter window sillFollowing the bustling activity that accompanies the holiday season, people often experience a bout of the listlessness, lethargy, and sadness characteristic of depression—-particularly on the first Monday of the New Year. In many parts of the world, the biting cold, darker days, and lack of social stimulation trigger symptoms of seasonal affective disorder (SAD). With the “brutal cold” temperatures currently sweeping through several parts of the United States, this year’s “blue Monday” effect is expected to be especially pronounced.

Dr. Angelo Halaris, a psychiatrist with the Loyola University Medical Center, said in a recent report that this wave of post-holiday depression may extend for days or even weeks in January. Along with the short days and extreme cold, he attributes the “mental and physical exhaustion” that set in once the eating, drinking, and socializing of holiday gatherings dies down as being another major factor in SAD.

Considering that the lack of light in the winter months plays a huge part in influencing these feelings of sadness and fatigue, treatments involving light therapy have been shown to alleviate symptoms. One contraption that may help is a headband that delivers light to the retina of the person wearing it. Sun lamps, light boxes, and dawn simulators are also available in stores and online. Many of these are portable.

Because bright light has such a positive effect on brain chemistry, Halaris encourages those who are feeling downhearted this time of year to brave the cold and get outside, even if it is overcast. Simply soaking in a small amount of natural light can do wonders for a darkened mental and emotional state.

Reference:
Loyola Medicine. (2014, January 3). Blue Monday: brutal cold, short days, post-holiday letdown raise risk of depression. Retrieved from http://loyolamedicine.org/newswire/news/blue-monday-brutal-cold-short-days-post-holiday-letdown-raise-risk-depression

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  • Taryn

    Taryn

    January 7th, 2014 at 4:27 AM

    Tell me about it! I didn’t know that this was something that other people were feeling too but I had the worst day ever yesterday and guess what? It was cold and the first Monday back to work after Christmas and New Year’s! I think that I feel this way every year, just kind of like all of the excitement of the holidays is over and you now have to settle into the ho hum of winter and you atart wondering when there will be an end in sight.

  • Molly

    Molly

    January 7th, 2014 at 10:42 AM

    You know, it doesn’t have to be like this. If you have gotten through the holidays unscated then this doesn’t have to be the start of a slump, just the continuiation of really good times. Why not try to put more of a positive spin on it like that?

  • keaton

    keaton

    January 8th, 2014 at 4:02 AM

    I thought that this kind of sadness was brought on more by lack of light, shorter days, etc and not the post holiday slump. Is it just that these two events happen to coincide that you happen to see them going together?

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