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Essential health information from local experts

Is it the ‘Holiday Blues’? Or Something More?

Is it the ‘Holiday Blues’? Or Something More?

With Behavioral Health Services Manager Ashley Cave

The holidays can be magical — a season filled with celebrations, good cheer and time spent with loved ones.

But what happens when they’re not?

For many, the winter holidays bring to the forefront — even worsen — feelings of depression, sadness, anxiety or loneliness. 

More than 13 million adults in the U.S. experienced at least 1 major depressive episode with severe impairment in 2019, according to the National Institute for Mental Health. 

“People who don’t generally experience depression or anxiety may feel a sort of persistent ‘blues’ during the holidays,” said Ashley Cave, a manager at Sarasota Memorial’s Bayside Center for Behavioral Health. “But for people already living with depression or anxiety, the stress and potential isolation of the holidays can make their symptoms worse.”

Symptoms of Depression

More than just "feeling sad," clinical depression is a serious medical illness. It can affect anyone, regardless of gender, race or socioeconomic circumstance, and it can be life-threatening when it progresses to thoughts of self-harm.  

While warning signs and symptoms vary, depression changes how a person functions day-to-day, and episodes typically last at least 2 weeks. The most common symptoms include:

  • Changes in sleeping patterns, including sleeping too little or too much
  • Changes in appetite or weight
  • Loss of interest in activities previously enjoyed
  • Persistent sad, anxious or “empty” mood
  • Restlessness or irritability
  • Difficulty concentrating, remembering or making decisions
  • Fatigue or loss of energy
  • Thoughts of death or suicide

It's important to keep an eye out for these symptoms in yourself and in others. Many people don't even realize they are depressed, mistakenly believing that their symptoms are just a normal part of life. 

With the right diagnosis and treatment plan, depression can respond well to treatment. If you recognize these symptoms in yourself or a loved one, take advantage of available resources and connect with professionals who can help. 

Depression Screening & Resources

An easy way to get started asking for help is to use the online depression screening tool from Mental Health America (MHA). It’s free, anonymous, confidential and convenient. Click here to check it out. 

"And remember, you're not alone," Cave added. "At Bayside, we're here to listen and help, and to help guide you, step-by-step."

For more information on outpatient mental health services, clinical assessment or help with physician referrals or finding community resources, call 941-917-2660.

In a medical emergency or crisis, always call 9-1-1 immediately.


Written by Sarasota Memorial copywriter Philip Lederer, MA, who crafts a variety of external communications for the healthcare system. A local journalist and SMH's in-house wordsmith, Lederer earned his Master's degree in Public Administration and Political Philosophy from Morehead State University, Ky.

Posted: Nov 9, 2021,
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Author: Ann Key