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Post-Holiday Letdown Can Be Avoided

Healthy diet, exercise are real blues-beaters, experts say

TUESDAY, Dec. 25 (HealthDay News) -- Eating a balanced diet and staying active are key to beating the blues this holiday season, say mental health experts.

"I see more cases of depression in January than any other time of year," Dr. Gary L. Malone, medical director and chief of behavioral health at Baylor All Saints Medical Center at Fort Worth, Texas, said in a prepared statement.

Once the party is over, and the wrapping paper has been picked up, many otherwise festive people may feel unusually down.

According to Baylor health system experts, the holiday season is fraught with triggers for depression. Eating, drinking and spending too much are among the causes of holiday blues. Add family tension or grief over lost loved ones, and the mix can become potent.

According to Malone, there are a few things people can do to avoid post-holiday letdown:

  • Eat a balanced diet, which results in more energy and an improved sense of wellbeing. Cut back on caffeine if you are having trouble sleeping and cut back on the festive cocktails.
  • Go for a walk. Physical activity helps you lose weight and improves your mood. If the winter weather looks foreboding, work out inside. Take advantage of New Year's specials to join a gym or your fellow post-holiday shoppers walking the outer edge of the mall.
  • Talk about it. According to Malone, sharing your troubles with someone else can be a relief, and they may be able to offer another perspective that could help you.

If these steps don't help ease the blues away, consider talking to a physician.

The symptoms of depression include a persistent sad or "empty" mood; sleeping too little or too much; weight loss or weight gain; loss of interest in once-enjoyed activities; restlessness; difficulty concentrating; tiredness; and thoughts of death or suicide.

More information

To learn more about coping with the holiday blues, visit the American Psychological Association.

-- Madeline Vann

SOURCE: Baylor Health Care System, news release, December 2007

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