Holiday Depression And Stress (cont.)
Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD
Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.
William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR
Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.
In this Article
- Holiday depression, anxiety, and stress facts
- What causes the holiday blues?
- Is the environment and reduced daylight a factor in wintertime sadness?
- What are risk factors for holiday depression, anxiety, and stress?
- What are symptoms and signs of holiday depression, anxiety, and stress?
- How is holiday anxiety, stress, and depression diagnosed?
- What kinds of specialists treat holiday depression, anxiety, and stress?
- What is the treatment for holiday depression, anxiety, and stress?
- What are possible complications from holiday depression, anxiety, and stress?
- What is the prognosis for holiday depression, anxiety, and stress?
- Can holiday anxiety, stress, and depression be prevented?
- Find a local Psychiatrist in your town
How is holiday anxiety, stress, and depression diagnosed?
A simple history and physical exam may be all that is needed to diagnose a case of the holiday blues. Your health-care professional may perform lab tests or other tests to rule out any medical conditions that may be causing your symptoms. Likewise, a full history of your symptoms is likely to provide clues that can help distinguish a mild case of the holiday blues from SAD or a more serious and chronic depressive disorder.
What kinds of specialists treat holiday depression, anxiety, and stress?
Anxiety, depression, and stress can be treated by a variety of medical and mental-health professionals. Medical doctors, including family medicine physicians and internists, treat holiday depression. Psychiatrists are medical doctors who have special training in treating mental and emotional conditions. There are many other types of mental-health professionals who may treat these conditions. These include psychologists, social workers, mental-health counselors, marital and family therapists, nurse psychotherapists, psychiatric or mental-health nurse practitioners, and others.
What is the treatment for holiday depression, anxiety, and stress?
Those suffering from any type of holiday depression or stress may benefit from increased social support during this time of year. For uncomplicated holiday blues, improvement may be found by finding ways to reduce the stresses associated with the holiday, either by limiting commitments and outside activities, making arrangements to share family responsibilities such as gift shopping and meal preparation, agreeing upon financial limits for purchases, or taking extra time to rest and rejuvenate.
Counseling or support groups are another way to relieve some of the burdens of holiday stress or sadness. Knowing that others feel the same way and sharing your thoughts and experiences can help you manage your troubling feelings. Support groups also provide a further layer of social support during this vulnerable time period.
In addition to being an important step in preventing the symptoms of seasonal affective disorder, regular exposure to light that is bright, particularly fluorescent lights, significantly improves depression in people with SAD during the fall and winter. Phototherapy is commercially available in the form of light boxes, which are used for approximately 30 minutes daily. The light required must be of sufficient brightness, approximately 25 times as bright as a normal living room light. The light treatment is used daily in the morning and evening for best results.
Visiting other areas of the world that are characterized by more bright light (such as the Caribbean) can also improve the symptoms of SAD.
Antidepressant medications, particularly serotonin selective reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) medications, can be an effective treatment for seasonal affective disorder. Examples of SSRIs include fluoxetine (Prozac), sertraline (Zoloft), paroxetine (Paxil), and citalopram (Celexa).
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