Holiday Depression, Anxiety, and Stress

  • Medical Author:
    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.

  • Medical Editor: William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR
    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.

Understanding Depression Slideshow

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Holiday Travel Pictures Slideshow: 7 Tips to Make It Less Stressful

What are symptoms and signs of holiday depression, anxiety, and stress?

Balancing the demands of shopping, parties, family obligations, and house guests may contribute to feelings of being overwhelmed and increased tension. People who do not view themselves as depressed may develop stress responses and may experience a number of physical and emotional symptoms including

Image of areas of the body that are affected by stress
Image of areas of the body that are affected by stress

Others may experience post-holiday sadness after New Year's/Jan. 1. This can result from built-up expectations and disappointments from the previous year, coupled with stress and fatigue.

In the case of seasonal affective disorder or a true depressive disorder, symptoms may persist beyond the holidays or may be more severe. The symptoms of seasonal affective disorder include tiredness, fatigue, depression, crying spells and mood swings, irritability, trouble concentrating, body aches, loss of sex drive, insomnia, decreased activity level, and overeating (especially of carbohydrates) with associated weight gain.

How is holiday anxiety, stress, and depression diagnosed?

A simple history and physical exam may be all that is needed to diagnose a case of the holiday blues. Your health-care professional may perform lab tests or other tests to rule out any medical conditions that may be causing your symptoms. Likewise, a full history of your symptoms is likely to provide clues that can help distinguish a mild case of the holiday blues from SAD or a more serious and chronic depressive disorder.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 12/4/2014
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  • Holiday Depression and Stress - Symptoms

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  • Holiday Depression and Stress - Treatment and Coping

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  • Holiday Depression and Stress - Prevention

    If you are susceptible to holiday stress or depression, how do you prevent an occurrence? Do you avoid certain activities?

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  • Holiday Depression and Stress - Causes and Triggers

    Is it a lack of money or the loss of a loved one? What triggers the holidays blues for you?

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