Experts say watch out for seasonal, post-holiday depression - KAIT-Jonesboro, AR-News, weather, sports

Experts say watch out for seasonal, post-holiday depression

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The holidays have been over for a few weeks now. Most of us have our decorations packed away, but that’s leaving some people feeling depressed. The holidays have been over for a few weeks now. Most of us have our decorations packed away, but that’s leaving some people feeling depressed.
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GIDEON, MO (KFVS) -

The holidays have been over for a few weeks now. Most of us have our decorations packed away, but that's leaving some people feeling depressed.

Experts call it post-holiday depression. Psychologists say January is the most depressed month of the year, partly because the hype of the holidays is over.

Dr. David Van Pelt with Applied Psychological Center said these feelings of depression are more common than one might think.

"There are depression symptoms that come along after the holidays," Dr. Van Pelt said. "We hit Christmas; we hit New Year's, and then, all of the sudden, now what? I mean, all the excitement is suddenly gone."

He says some feelings of let-down or sadness are normal days after the New Year. However, if these feelings persist it could be a more serious condition.

"If the depression continues on for two weeks or three weeks and it's just not getting better, that's the time to seek professional help," Dr. Van Pelt said.

According to Dr. Van Pelt, the week following the first Monday of the New Year, is the most depressed time of the year.

"When we return to work after the holiday vacations, we may return to in-boxes that are filled with weeks of work to do and a log jam of e-mails and this adds to the stress," Van Pelt said. "There are heavy demands for managers who are hurriedly trying to meet the unmet goals from last year."

Dr. Van Pelt said it's best to be optimistic after the holidays.

"On an optimistic side as one year closes and another begins, we can look back at all of the things we have done, how life has changed for the positive or how the setbacks of the year were overcome," Dr. Van Pelt said. "Yet some people look back and minimize the accomplishments of the previous year or focus on what was not accomplished. They see the New Year as a start to another daunting set of tasks to meet or a reminder of how they left things undone."

Candace Raymond has what psychologists would call a healthy relationship with the holidays before, during, and after.

"Once everything is said and done and Christmas is over, it's really a relief for me," she said

Raymond said it's easy to say goodbye to the holidays when she's looking at what's ahead.

"January is a fresh, new start for me," Raymond said. "You get to start over, a whole new year."

As for her Christmas decorations, she's glad she won't be seeing them for a while.

"It'll probably be almost another year from now, or 11 months, I guess before I open that up again," she said.

Dr. Van Pelt said another reason people often feel down in January is because of the weather. He said not much sunshine and colder temperatures can add to seasonal depression.

"The clinical name for the winter blues is seasonal affective disorder or SAD. It can affect up to 5% of the population in Northern states. It is characterized by feelings of sadness and depression that occur with the winter months when the temperatures drop and the days grow shorter," Van Pelt said.

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