With the arrival of the Holiday season the majority of us experience Christmas music, festive lights, delicious food, anxiety and depression. Wait, anxiety and depression? Unfortunately yes. During this time of year there is an elevated incidence of anxiety and depression. The causes may vary from changes in weather, stress from family to lack of adequate sunlight. It is an overwhelmingly emotional time of the year for many people.
How do you know if you are one of these people? Common symptoms include but are not limited to a feeling of unease, worry, lack of energy, or having a feeling of hopelessness or inadequacy. Under increased stress our bodies adapt to the stress by increasing or decreasing the release of certain hormones which can cause these symptoms.
As you may have guessed the fluctuation of hormones play a role with this conundrum. Common physiological factors that contribute to symptoms of anxiety and depression often include excess or minimum levels of cortisol. Cortisol is a tricky hormone. Unless it is perfectly balanced it can be the origin for many systemic inadequacies. When stress levels are high, cortisol is released at an increased rate. Having uncommonly high cortisol is often the cause of the weight gain and fatigue. When cortisol levels are too low you may experience the feeling of hopelessness and fatigue. Commonly correlated symptoms of low estrogen and depression include fatigue, unexplained weight gain or brain fogginess. Put this together with testosterone deficiencies you are just about doomed to feel at least irrigated, anxious or have mood swings. As I tell all my patients, the very least you will have the “stupid people syndrome”. When people act stupid you can’t cope with it anymore…..you want to bite their heads off or a the very least slap them.
Hormone deficiencies can make all this worse. Any underlying mood disorder gets exacerbated.
Also, Seasonal Affective Disorder which correlates lack of sunlight and shorter days with depression. Since getting away to Mexico for increased sunshine is not an option for everyone, try alternatives like bundling up to enjoy a nice walk on a sunny day or find activities that increase sunlight exposure during those vital hours during the day.
However, even the most mentally adjusted, with good hormone balance and dare I say a happy family, can have mood disorders during the holidays. Remembrance of past times, high expectations of what the holidays can bring and being disappointed and shear madness of having to do everything perfect can really increase stress.
Remember to take time for yourself, recognize when you need some extra TLC and find comfort in that you are not alone. Holidays are crazy for most folks and you do not need to pretend that they are perfect…..they are a time to take thanks in the things that bring you joy and love…..and recognize that our health is very important. Give yourself the gift of TLC and a good medical evaluation. Make sure your hormones are balanced and this will help with the coping of the holiday crazies.