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Missing Out on the Merry?

Checking in when friends are blue during the holidays.

The holidays are a time of merriment, cheer, fun with family and friends, giving and receiving gifts and of course plenty of good food.  At least for some.

As a society, we look forward to the end of year holidays each year.  But not everyone has that same level of interest in, or anticipation for, the holidays or festive social gatherings.  For various reasons, some feel that the season is more an annoyance, that the neighborhood party is for everyone else but not for them. Many believe they are not deserving of gifts or well wishes or even the joy that the season brings.  

For these individuals, this is just their baseline mood for all holidays.  Others may notice that they are not excited for the holidays and realize it is different from years past.   Although the change is apparent to them, they steadfastly keep up their normal holiday activities and traditions, hoping that the exercise will make things better. They start with Thanksgiving family meals and when that fails to cheer them up, they hope for Christmas with the gift giving and receiving. When that too fails to help, they set their sights on New Year’s.  Alas, in January, they decide to work on a New Year’s resolution to never have a holiday season like that anymore.  

This is more than just being in temporary funk. What many call the “holiday blues” is also an ongoing feeling of hope that the next event will deliver a change in mood and outlook.  

HOPE IS NOT AN OPTION.  Inaction will not produce a different result at the next holiday.

HOPE IS NOT AN ANSWER. Do you/they know the root cause of these feelings and symptoms?

HOPE IS NOT A TREATMENT. Medical disorders require medical evaluation and treatment.

Not sure how to broach the subject?  Start with these questions: 

  1. Are you more withdrawn from friends, family, and coworkers this holiday season?  Does the thought of going to the company party make you anxious or exhausted?
  2. Are you more annoyed, irritable, or agitated around holiday shoppers, traffic, mall parking lots, etc. this past month?
  3. Are you avoiding shopping or are you less interested in the holidays spirit of giving and receiving? Do you feel like you are just going through the motions of it all?
  4. Did that Thanksgiving meal seem to just drag on? Did even your favorite comfort food fail to give you the same feelings as in years past?
  5. Are you hoping that Christmas might cheer you up (because you do not know why you feel this way)?

If the answer is YES to three or more of these questions, it’s probably time to consult a physician to see if a medical condition is affecting the brain’s ability to experience the joy of the holidays.  Brain health and wellness really is the gift that keeps on giving all year long!

Dr. Angelo Sambunaris has been a leader in the field of clinical research for over two decades and currently serves as Founder, CEO and Medical Director of the Institute for Advanced Medical Research.


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