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New Years Blues A.K.A. Post Holiday Blues

Updated: Jan 3, 2020

While some people look forward to New Year’s parties and resolutions, others dread this traditional time,to take stock and look back on the past year’s accomplishments – or lack thereof.

Some persons may feel stressed out about the not accomplishing all of their goals and or fulfilling their chosen resolutions.


With regard to the post holiday blues aka new years blues; there may be evident a few symptoms of a major depressive episode but not enough to make the diagnosis (subthreshold symptoms) of it i.e. low spirited; feeling guilty; lack of interest in engaging in activities once normally enjoyed; sleep disturbances; lack of focus; distractibility and changes in appetite. In essence the persons is not clinically depressed but experiencing depression symptoms.


There are Persons who may have symptoms of a major depressive episode during the Post Holidays or the New Year


If you're mildly or moderately depressed already – or perhaps suffer from depression in winter -- all this taking stock of yourself can make things worse, especially if you tell yourself you never measure up. It is recommended that you have close follow-up with your psychotherapist or psychiatrist during this time and adhere to your doctors treatment regime.


Ruminators and the New Year’s Blues


If you find yourself assessing and reassessing the year, becoming more and more depressed, you may be a ruminator. Women are more likely than men to have this habit, Nolen-Hoeksema says.

In her research, Nolen-Hoeksema has focused on "ruminators." Of note, she describes ruminators as those who go over and over their problems, either in their own mind or by discussing them with others, but have no clear plan to solve the issues.


Moreover, she has found that those who ruminate also tend to have negative coping styles, criticize themselves unduly and be pessimistic. Ruminating and depression often go hand-in-hand.


Recognizing when to stop ruminating is crucial. "Everyone ruminates some," she says. The real difficulty arises, she says, when you realize all the thinking and rethinking about a problem or issue is not getting you anywhere or is making you feel worse -- and still, you can't quit. "People who get stuck in rumination think there is going to be insight by keeping on thinking about it," she says. "They may have more trouble [than others] shifting their attention [to other topics]."


Depression symptoms can make ruminating worse. If you are already in a depressed mood and get started on a rumination cycle, you'll tend to focus on the worst aspects of a problem, she says. "Rumination and depression are a toxic mix." The rumination feeds the depression and vice versa. The process is so reciprocal, says Nolen-Hoeksema, that it's difficult to identify sometimes which started it all.


What Tips are useful to alleviate Ruminating?


Anticipate. If you've been in this ruminating route before, make a plan to minimize it this year --before the end of the year arrives.


Ask why, not "Why me?" When the rumination starts to surface, don't dwell on your shortcomings. Instead, think a bit about why some things you wanted to happen this year didn't.

Shift into action. Instead of moaning or moping, ask yourself: "What is a small thing I can do to change the situation that is in front of me?"


Get active or distract yourself. When you fall back into the ruminating habit, walk around the block, go to the gym, or head for the mall. Physical activity works, Nolen-Hoeksema says. "Within 10 minutes you are feeling better," she says. "It's hard to ruminate and shift to action at the same time."

Distraction works, too, she has found in her studies. When she asked some ruminators to think about something else other than the problem, they weren't as adept later at recalling negative events as those who weren't distracted from their ruminating.


Be specific when deciding on your goals and objectives. If you decide to make a New Year's resolution, be reasonable and decide exactly what you will do, Abramson says. "Not a global resolution about making yourself a wonderful person," he says. Instead: "I won't yell at the kids." Or, instead of "I will lose 20 pounds," try: "When I know they are having doughnuts at work, I will bring fruit instead."


Examine your expectations. Decide if they are realistic. If they aren't, that doesn't mean giving up on the goal, says Abramson. Instead, break it into multiple steps.

Spiritual Awareness is good as well i.e. prayer; praise; meditation; church attendance raise the stress tolerance level.


Daily Exercise such as jogging; walking; bicycling releases endorphins (the naturally occurring happy/feel good chemicals) raises the stress tolerance level


What is Clinical Depression? It can occur Post holidays as well



What is Major Depressive Disorder? ---It is a mood disorder; characterized by persistent sustained depressed mood or anhedonia (decreased interest in previously enjoyed activities or decreased participation); impairment in functioning of the individual in all arenas of life; medical professionals must exclude physical illness; bereavement process/grief reaction; or psychotic illness


What are the signs and symptoms of Major Depression?


----persistent sustained sadness/depressed mood or anhedonia ( lack of interest in engaging in once normally enjoyed activities and lack of derived enjoyment) plus four (4) other minor symptoms of depression

---(Take Notice: overall five out of nine (5/9) depressive symptoms seen for at least a two (2) week duration)



What are the factors that contribute to the development of Major Depression? Predisposing factors? Precipitating factors? Any Precipitating factors during the holiday period?


PREDISPOSING FACTORS:


• Nature and Nuture at work (there is an interplay of these two)

• Genetic influence (depression runs in families)

• If one parent has a history of major depression, this increases one's chance of developing major depression, two (2) fold and if both parents suffer with depression, the chances are even greater-four (4) fold increased risk; other factors include: physical abuse or emotional abuse or verbal abuse e.g. being called worthless; ugly, stupid; unattractive

• Environmental influences e.g. extreme poverty; lack of housing, shelter and basic ammenities


PRECIPITATING FACTORS:


• Recent life events, considered stressful and leading esp. to feelings of entrapment or humiliation

• Vulnerability factors (increased effects of life events), i.e., having the care of young children; not working outside the home; having no-one to confide in/poor social support (lack of a confidante; lack of support)

Is there any danger of untreated Depression in an individual? Yes.


• Underlying depression not treated can be life threatening

• One out of seven with recurrent depressive illness commits suicide

• 70% of suicides have depressive illness

• Absenteeism and inefficiency at work (inability to complete tasks)

• Inability of individual to maintain and keep a job due to loss of functioning in all spheres


What assistance can be rendered to a person suffering with Depression?


------talk therapy a.k.a. (cognitive behavioral therapy)

------Medications indicated in moderate to severe illness-----Major Depressive Disorder; cases where increased risks of completing suicide


Where can one access help in The Bahamas, if one is depressed? If in New Providence? If residing on The Family Island?

New Providence:


------Psychiatrist at Community Counseling & Assessment Centre/Market St

------Psychologist

-------family physician/general practitioner

-------Social Worker/ Call Crisis Hotline

-------Talk with supportive family member

-------- Talk with a trusted confidante


Family Islands:


-------District Medical Officer

-------Social Worker/ Call crisis hotline

-------Psychologist if one is present

-------Priest/Pastor/Spiritual Advisor

-------confidante/ supportive family member


When are medications indicated in a depressed patient?


-----loss of function in occupational/social/religious/educational areas of life

-----moderate to severe illness (Major Depressive Disorder)

-----medium to severe risk of completing suicide/ episodes of imminent risks of completing suicides



Are there any tips for individuals/members of the society to prevent the onset of a Depressive episode during the New Year?


One does not need to suffer in silence. Seek professional help, as it is available to you. Below is a list of some self-help tips that you may find helpful to you:


  1. Keep a regular sleep schedule

  2. Maintain a healthy balanced diet amidst the sweets; cookies & eggnog

  3. Limit alcohol intake---alcohol in large volumes is a depressant and cause onset of depressive symptoms

  4. Take medications as prescribed by a family physician or psychiatrist

  5. Maintain a regular exercise routine and will to adhere to it; invite a workout partner to motivate you

  6. Do not strive for perfection-do the best you can and ask for help from others

  7. Schedule alone time to feed your mind, spirit and body (for quiet meditation)

  8. Limit the time at family and social gatherings

  9. Set realistic goals and objectives for the upcoming year-2020

  10. Prepare a monthly budget and adhere to it

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