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Veterans Health Administration

Losing the Holiday Blues

A bearded man with a serious expression outside in the snow

 

The holiday season can be a time of joy, happiness and family get-togethers.

But for some Veterans, it is a time of loneliness and anxiety about their future.

Why do I have the Holiday Blues?

Many things can cause the “holiday blues.”

It could be stress, fatigue, unrealistic expectations, money problems, or being unable to be with one’s family and friends. For many, the holidays bring back old memories of friends and loved ones who are no longer present.

The demands of shopping and family reunions can also lead to feelings of tension.

Some Vets develop stress symptoms such as headaches, excessive drinking, over-eating and problems sleeping. There is also the post-holiday let down after January 1. This is common after such intense activity for so many weeks. It may also result from disappointments during the holidays added to the excess fatigue and stress.

VA’s Primary Care and Mental Health professionals are ready to help you deal with your depression.

Here’s One Way to See if You Are Depressed

You may be wondering if you have symptoms of depression. One way of determining that is to take a brief confidential and anonymous screening. Only you will see the results of the brief screening. None of the results are stored or sent anywhere. You can choose to print a copy of the results for your own records or to give to your VA physician or a mental health professional.

Is the Weather to Blame?

Some Veterans suffer from seasonal affective disorder (SAD), which results from being exposed to fewer hours of sunlight as the days grow shorter during the winter months. This is most common in the northern states where daylight may last almost half as long in winter as it does in summer. The change in daylight hours affects some of the chemicals in the brain, leading to depression, often accompanied by excessive sleepiness and overeating.

This article on the “winter blues” will help you understand SAD.

The Albuquerque VA Medical Center has a great feature on how to deal with holiday stress.

VA has numerous resources to help Vets get through the Holiday Blues, and VA’s Primary Care and Mental Health professionals are ready to help you deal with your depression.