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Tips for handling the post-holiday blues

New Britain [December 28 2006] - The Christmas decorations will soon come down, the menorah has been put away for the season and the parties, shopping and hustle and bustle of the holidays are nearly over.
For some, it’s a relief. But for many people, the end of the holidays means there’s little to look forward to but a long, cold, dark winter.
While post-holiday letdown is common, it can indicate or exacerbate a more serious problem, says Michael Balkunas, M.D., chief of psychiatry at The Hospital of Central Connecticut.
“A lot of attention has been paid to the effect the actual holidays have on people with depression, particularly those who have lost a loved one,” Balkunas says. “But post-holiday depression is also common, particularly for people whose mood is affected by reduced light on shorter winter days.”
Regardless of the cause, depression should be treated, Balkunas says. If you’re experiencing any of these symptoms for more than two weeks, contact your doctor:

• Persistent sad, anxious or “empty” mood
• Feeling guilty, hopeless or worthless
• Restlessness, irritability
• Difficulty concentrating, remembering or making decisions
• Sleeping too much or too little, nighttime or early morning waking
• Reduced appetite and weight loss, or increased appetite and weight gain
• Loss of pleasure and interest in activities once enjoyed, including sex
• Persistent physical symptoms that do not respond to treatment (such as chronic pain or digestive disorders)
• Fatigue or loss of energy
• Thoughts of suicide or death

If you’re being treated for depression or just suffering a minor case of the post-holiday blues, taking care of yourself can help. Balkunas offers these tips:
• Watch your diet – eat healthy foods and drink plenty of water.
• Get plenty of aerobic exercise. While not a cure for depression, aerobic exercise has been shown to decrease symptoms.
• Get outside and get some natural light during the day.
• Go to bed and wake up at the same time each day to get your body onto a schedule.
“All those things you would do for your physical health are important for your mental health, also,” Dr. Balkunas says.

Contact: Nancy Martin, (860) 224-5900 X4366














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