“Holiday blues” – how to face the “most wonderful time of the year” with your mental health intact

RAPID CITY, S.D. — It’s the “most wonderful time of the year,” but not for everyone.

It’s a convergence of two mood-killers – less light in the winter and family-oriented holidays without the whole family – that can contribute to seasonal depression.

The “holiday blues” are especially prominent during the pandemic, when social distancing and loss of a family member might still be fresh.

“We see raging depression right now all through the community, and it’s not just Rapid City, it’s all through the whole world,” says Dr. Stephen Manlove. “The incidence of depression has gone way up, and the big thing you can see that’s different is the amount of socialization that people feel comfortable with.”

Depression

Dr. Manlove, a board-certified psychiatrist, says the lack of light can affect people in ways they may not realize, and not always with depression.

“You might not even feel sad or you might still enjoy doing stuff, but maybe just not quite as much as usual; you’re not feeling as good as usual, you might not have the energy or the motivation as usual,” Dr. Manlove says.

Manlove’s recommendation? Exposure to a full-spectrum light for about thirty minutes a day.

But what about the emotional toll of the holidays? The doctor says don’t isolate – socialize; it’s normal to miss loved ones that are no longer with us.

“It’s important to frame that up,  that this is okay and it’s fine – fine to be sad,” Dr. Manlove adds.

He encourages sufferers to make small changes to help their behavior, such as exercising, meditation, moderating food intake, and regulating sleep – all ways to strategize and tackle those “holiday blues.”

If you or someone you know is struggling with mental health or thoughts of suicide, CLICK HERE for resources to help.

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