Post-Holiday Blues: Experts say symptoms can last for two weeks, resources to help

The post-holiday blues is sometimes referred to as the post-vacation blues, like most conditions it varies from person to person and can take different forms.
It's a new year, but if you're feeling down, you could be dealing with post-holiday depression
Published: Jan. 5, 2023 at 8:29 PM EST
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GREENVILLE, S.C. (FOX Carolina) - Studies have found more than half of people with mental health conditions report feeling worse after the holiday season. So how serious can this be? The post-holiday blues is sometimes referred to as the post-vacation blues, like most conditions it varies from person to person and can take different forms.

For Dejr Bostick the holidays were a grim reminder of a family secret.

“When I was three and my sister was two, my father picked us up and put us on the front steps of an orphanage and walked away,” Bostick said. “What are the missing pieces in my life. And every time the holiday came around it kind of pronounced that.”

Like a lot of people he coped, filling the void with the usual holiday flare, gifting people and events and then when the holiday was over, he’d return to his job in corporate America in a post-holiday funk.

“It allows your body to get into overload, and once you’re in overload then the burnout ensues. Then you find yourself not really wanting to go to work, you find yourself not wanting to do the things you normally do,” he said.

It’s called the post-holiday blues. Research shows symptoms include low-energy, insomnia, difficulty concentrating and irritability that can lead to depression, absenteeism and burnout.

“Taking on project after project,” Bostick said.

FOX Carolina obtained video showing the special reunion between he and his father in Miami two months ago, but Bostick joins experts who advise people that they shouldn’t spend years or decades tackling the post-holiday blues solo.

“It comes down to frequency, duration and intensity,” said Tiffney Parker, LMSW, Universal Therapeutic Services CEO. “How frequent are you feeling sad, down and out? What’s the duration of it? And what’s the intensity?”

Parker says her agency sees 300 clients a month. She says the post-holiday blues coupled with seasonal affective disorder will likely increase the number of people seeking help.

“It’s going to grow by another 20% to 30% easy,” Parker said.

She also encourages people experiencing more severe symptoms to think about the people in their life also being affected.

“Absenteeism not only affects the people who are not at work, but it affects everybody else who has to pick up the load and guess what that does, that increases the burnout for everyone else, because someone has to carry the load,” Parker said.

She also encourages people to avoid self-medicating, experts like Parker say seek help, but also stay socially and physically active.

“This time of year, people are establishing their life goals, they’re saying what they want to do to take care of themselves better and a part of that is getting engaged in therapy because the stigma is starting to be broken,” she said.

Bostick still does therapy, and even took up meditation. He encourages others to break their personal cycle.

“When I’m at work, I’m locked into it,” he said. “When at home with my wife and kids, I’m locked in. And when I’m at the gym, I’m locked in. So, there is a space that we can find.”

Experts liken the post-holiday blues to the Sunday blues. Research shows for most people it may take up to two weeks to beat the symptoms, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s helpline is a free, confidential, 24/7, 365-day-a-year treatment referral and information service (in English and Spanish) for individuals and families facing mental and/or substance use disorders. Call 1-800-662-HELP (4357) (also known as the Treatment Referral Routing Service), or TTY: 1-800-487-4889.

To learn more about Universal Therapeutic Services, visit here: