PSU Vanguard Shield Icon

Holiday blues

The holiday season can be invigorating for some, but overwhelming for many. The holidays are not always a time for joy and celebration, but there are ways to help combat the holiday blues.

There is the issue of being down around the holidays, also know as the holiday blues, but that is different from depression.

“Whether it is blues or depression, don’t suffer alone,” said Mary Beth Collins, director of Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS).

While the holiday blues and depression may seem similar, there are distinct differences.

There is a bulletin board on the first floor of Smith Memorial Center illustrating the differences between holiday blues and depression.

Holiday blues are feelings of sadness for a limited duration of time. Some of the indications may include unrealistic expectations for the holidays, accentuated loneliness, sadness regarding the over-commercialization of the season or residual stress from unfortunate past holiday experiences.

Coping strategies for the holiday blues include being realistic about what is possible and what is not during the season, prioritizing activities and events, drinking moderately, accepting life’s changes and talking to someone. This person could be a counselor.

“Eighty percent of people feel better talking to a therapist,” Collins said.

Talking to someone is also necessary for people who suffer from depression.

The difference between holiday blues and depression is that depression is an ongoing state of being. Indicators of depression might include lack of energy all the time, less interest in ordinary activities (including sex), bouts of uncontrollable crying, feeling the future is grim and feelings of helplessness and worthlessness. The thought of death or suicide and even attempts of suicide may occur when someone is suffering from depression.

Collins stressed that depression is not a character flaw; it is a life threatening illness.

The CAPS services are limited over winter break, but Collin encouraged students to seek help. Collins said it is not shameful to seek help.

If students are enrolled in nine credit hours or more, the services free. If enrolled in eight credit hours or less, the student must have paid the health fee in the first two weeks of the term. For more information about CAPS go to Smith Memorial Center in the mezzanine 343 or call 503-725-4425.

According to a handout distributed by CAPS, there are six holiday stress busters. One is to remember your values. The holidays are not about material possessions, but instead about giving, sharing and caring. It is also important to set limits, remembering that not everything can be done.

Volunteering is also suggested because giving to others is beneficial for your own health. If you have lost someone you love, give yourself to grieve. Finally the handout suggests that you face your own feelings about any family conflicts.

Portland State’s student radio station, KPSU, is also addressing the issue of holiday stress. There will be a special holiday edition of Shrink Wrap on Dec. 4 at 6 p.m. on KPSU (1450 on the am dial). The program will help address management of holiday turmoil.