Seasonal depression and the holiday blues: What to look out for and how to manage

Know the difference between the holiday blues and something more serious.
Know the difference between the holiday blues and something more serious.(CNN)
Published: Dec. 12, 2022 at 5:22 PM CST
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RAPID CITY, S.D. (KOTA) - Seasonal Affective Disorder is a type of depression that can present itself during the darker, colder months of the year.

Like depression, people with SAD can show symptoms of fatigue, lethargy, and sadness. The first symptoms usually do not present themselves until the weather begins to change. South Dakota is ranked number 4 in the US for seasonal depression rates and around 1 in 20 million people will feel the effects this year.

“Someone would be feeling down, sometimes tearful. A change in eating patterns or sleeping patterns is a big sign. Feeling like they don’t want to do the normal things or normal routines that they used to. Feeling stuck, not having any energy, having things bother them that would not normally bother them,” says Psychologist Kari Scovel.

Seasonal depression can present itself in many ways, and in order to prevent it, it is recommended that you find ways to incorporate new people, places, or hobbies into your life. But new experiences aren’t the only solution.

“Often times light boxes can help with seasonal depression. That’s not a prescription but something you can do in the morning is get a wide spectrum light and when you read your newspaper you can put it on, it really does help people with seasonal depression,” Scoval said.

Seasonal depression can often be mistaken for “holiday blues,” a form of depression that is more temporary; and is usually brought on by the stress of the holidays. Holiday blues symptoms include feelings of malaise, tiredness, or stress, but usually, cease once the holidays are over.

“The holiday blues is often a stressful time and that pressure to get the right gift or cook the right meal, to have the best display in your yard can really stress people out and make them feel down,” Scovel finishes.

Symptoms of both the holiday blues and seasonal depression can include near-constant and daily feelings of depression, loss of interest in activities you used to enjoy, changes to your appetite or weight, sluggishness and low energy, trouble falling asleep or oversleeping during the day, or even thoughts of death or suicide.

If you experience symptoms of depression it is recommended you seek professional help.

If you or anyone you know is experiencing mental health issues or suicidal thoughts, call the National Suicide Hotline at 988.