“Holiday blues.” Ask people what season they associate with that phrase and they’d probably answer the season from November to January. Shopping pressures, the stress of family get-togethers – or the depression of being away from them – and cold, grey weather make the period from Thanksgiving to New Year’s an obvious choice.
Obvious yes, correct no.
A study from the University of Pennsylvania’s Annenberg Public Policy Center found that suicide averages were actually highest during the spring and summer. The study analyzed data taken from 1999 to 2010 from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Other researchers have linked this increase to a variety of reasons, from pollen counts to air pollution.
Worse, spring kicks off with Valentine’s Day. Despite the pink and red decorations, it’s a holiday that’s blue for lot of people. Suicide hotlines get more calls on Valentine’s Day; the Jacksonville Suicide Hotline reported to ABC First Coast News in Jacksonville that they get more calls than usual, and the Missouri Suicide Crisis hotline told their local CBS affiliate they reported more than 200 more calls than usual on Valentine’s Day.
Why Valentines are blue
There are often biological reasons behind seasonal depression. Seasonal affective disorder is a real mental disorder, particularly in areas that are still in the grip of winter around Valentine’s Day.
Also, as odd as it may sound, broken hearts can be a real thing. According to the American Heart Association (AHA), stress-induced cardiomyopathy is a sudden, intense attack of chest pain that can be mistaken for a heart attack. It’s not caused by blocked arteries – the pain is a reaction to surging stress hormones. More common in women than men, the AHA also warns that the syndrome can lead to short-term failure of heart muscles. Broken heart syndrome is treatable, and most people who experience it recover completely in a few weeks.
Valentine’s Day is a day that focuses tightly on romantic relationships – fine for people in them, but potentially isolating for anyone who isn’t. Isolation and loneliness aren’t merely sensations people experience, but feelings on par with hunger and thirst. More and more researchers are discovering links between loneliness and health. A study from 2012 conducted by the University of California, San Francisco, found that loneliness increased the risk of early death by 45 percent.
Fighting Valentine’s Day depression
The time during and after Valentine’s Day doesn’t have to be depressing. Here are five things anyone can do to beat depression year-round:
- Have perspective. Valentine’s Day isn’t an official holiday; nobody’s being commanded to be involved with another person. If you’re alone and beating yourself up, have a day where you’re good to yourself for once.
- Focus on giving love rather than receiving it. The love people feel is often the love they give to the rest of the world. Volunteering could be a good outlet.
- Think of the people close to you. Be it family members or friends, not every relationship needs to be romantic to be fulfilling. Anyone with friends is fortunate, and a strong social safety net is helpful in fighting depression.
- Be in the present. Don’t think about relationships that ended poorly – they’re history and over with. Also, don’t think about future relationships or fantasies about someone you’re not involved with.
- Get exercise. Get out of the house and stay active. Exercise releases endorphins, which can lift moods.
Depressive disorders respond well to treatment, but they can become dangerous when untreated. The Sovereign Health Group is staffed with experts in the mental health field. If you’re having trouble moving on from Valentine’s Day, please call our 24/7 helpline.
About the Author
Brian Moore is a staff writer and graphic designer for the Sovereign Health Group. A 20-year veteran of the newspaper industry, he writes articles and creates graphics across Sovereign’s portfolio of marketing and content products. Brian enjoys music, bicycling and playing the tuba, which’s he’s done with varying degrees of success for over 25 years. For more information and other inquiries about this media, contact the author and designer at firstname.lastname@example.org.