Feeling SAD: Beware of “Holiday Blues”

The holidays: it’s the most wonderful time of the year. Or is it?

While cheerful holiday music plays and holiday spirit can be seen wherever you look, for some people, the reality of the holidays isn’t so merry and bright. The sadness, anxiety and sometimes depression that manifests during the holiday season is called “holiday blues,” and for some people, this feeling is inevitable.

Are you feeling SAD?

The feeling of regular sadness during the dark winter months may be associated with seasonal affective disorder (SAD). According to psychiatrist Dr. Mark Sichel, “many people who think they are suffering from a case of holiday blues may actually be suffering from SAD, a form of depression that’s brought on by the change of seasons.” However, SAD is much more serious than mere “winter blues” and often requires medical attention.

Even though sadness is not an emotion most students associate with the holidays, to others, feeling despondent during the holiday season is a yearly occurrence, something that they are used to. This does not mean that they have SAD — the reason for experiencing holiday blues differ from person to person.

Junior Rashmi Ghonasgi, having taken a psychology class, is well aware of SAD and her own reason for feeling sad during the holidays. “I feel sad because I can’t see my friends,” Ghonasgi said. “We’re all too busy and we can’t do anything.”

Just like many other MVHS students, when questioned, she claims that her mood isn’t season-related. “I wouldn’t say it’s seasonal,” Ghonasgi explained. “Like you can give me a break at any time and I think I’d feel blue for the first couple of days and just get used to it after.”

Ghonasgi isn’t the only who feels “blue” because she can’t see her friends. For many students, an inability to see their friends is the reason for any seasonal sadness they may experience.

Junior Jeffrey Liou is another example of a student who feels sad during the holidays because he doesn’t want to leave his friends. “I will have the leave my friends in America and I sometimes have to go back to Taiwan and meet my family” said Liou. “In order the relief my sadness, I would sometimes just read a novel or draw.”

Liou is one of few students who actually try to beat their holiday blues. Most students, like Ghonasgi, do nothing to cope with their sadness.

Symptoms

“Comparing the holiday blues to a depressive disorder is like comparing a cold to pneumonia,” explained Robert Hales, chair of the UC Davis Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences. “Major depression can destroy joy for living and make it impossible to focus on work and responsibilities. Individuals may experience hopelessness and depressive symptoms such as sadness and tearfulness throughout the day”

Holiday blues, although not nearly as severe as a depressive disorder, should still be taken seriously. In fact, studies have shown that stress-related events such as holidays may trigger half of all depressive episodes.

Since the holidays may be a period where people experience increased depression or anxiety symptoms, it is important to recognize the signs of SAD or any other depressive disorder. If any of these symptoms persist, consider seeking professional help.
Since the holidays may be a period where people experience increased depression or anxiety symptoms, it is important to recognize the signs of SAD or any other depressive disorder. If any of these symptoms persist, consider seeking professional help. (Image by Alice Lou)

Unsuspecting MVHS students, beware.

Tips

Even though most MVHS students do not seem to be suffering from SAD, the holidays should still be a time to be enjoyed.

“I don’t really know why someone would feel sad during the holidays because the atmosphere is just so nice,” said Senior Dylan Tsai. “I always just embrace the holiday spirit.”

Indeed, the good spirit of the holidays should be appreciated. Take this opportunity to spend quality time with your loved ones, go out on a jog, catch some Z’s, and most importantly, reconsider how your way of thinking affects your happiness.