If you had a merry Christmas, why aren’t you having a happier New Year? Perhaps you suffer from what might be called Seasonal Letdown Disorder.
Dr. Clea Evans of Brandon, director of neuropsychology at Methodist Rehabilitation Center in Jackson, says it’s common for some people to feel depressed and lethargic in the month of January.
“Many people build up their expectations for the holidays, only to find themselves disappointed when things don’t turn out as perfectly as they had planned,” she said. “They also may feel lonelier after friends and family return home and resume their busy schedules. Others report grieving for loved ones who have died and are no longer with them over the holidays.”
Evans said plain old everyday exhaustion also affects people’s moods as they try to recover from the frenzy of holiday preparations. To shake off the doldrums, Evans recommends several simple strategies:
• Set up some lunch dates and/or make plans to spend time with people.
• Try to get outside for some sunshine and exercise.
• Begin planning a trip for spring or summer to give yourself something to look forward to.
• Write thank-you notes or e-mail friends and family to stay connected throughout the year.
Evans said if symptoms don’t improve, it’s time to talk to a physician. “This could be a sign of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), a type of major depression that some people experience only during the winter months due to lack of sunlight,” she said.
Symptoms can include depressed mood, lethargy/fatigue, increased sleep, anxiety/irritability, crying spells, headaches, overeating/craving for carbohydrates and thoughts of suicide.