Local experts weigh in on battling the ‘Holiday Blues'

It's supposed to be the most wonderful time of the year, but the holiday season can also be the most dangerous time of the year, as well as a time of high stress and anxiety.

“There's a concept that we know as holiday blues. It's really about feelings of depression and anxiety that people can experience sometime between November and January," said Karen Ranus, the Executive Director for the National Alliance of Mental Illness in Austin.

Ranus said experiences during the year may be causing the holiday blues for some people. 

“A lot of people experience loss during the year that hits them in the holidays. They are experiencing holidays in a way that they haven’t before. They may have feelings of isolation, fatigue, frustration, not wanting to really actively participate sometimes in things they ordinarily enjoy participating in.”

She said this is different than clinical depression or anxiety. “This tends to be something that is temporary that has a lot more to do with the stress of the holiday season.”

Not only do people have feelings of sadness, the Austin Police Department said criminal activity rises during the holiday season. Crimes such as assault and domestic violence tend to increase because of family gatherings and the added stresses of the season.

“Sometimes we use those family gatherings as a time to hash out things that maybe that's not the best time or place to be doing that,” Ranus said.      

Many people are celebrating which police said leads to more drug and alcohol offenses. Ranus said that plays a factor

“Alcohol can really be a contributing factor in situations like that. People tend to do things or say things that they may not ordinarily say when they've had too much to drink.”

So what can you do if you're feeling those holiday blues? Ranus said the worst thing you can do is isolate yourself. “Even just things like getting out and taking a walk, finding a good friend that you can sit and visit with, sometimes what we really need is to share those feelings with someone.”

For more information on the holiday blues, click here