December 19, 2013
By Xavier Higgs
LAWT Contributing Writer
Frequently this time of year brings a variety of demands including shopping, baking, cleaning and entertaining. While the holidays are supposed to be a time full of joy, good cheer, and optimistic hopes for a new year, many people experience seasonal “blues.”
Gay Guldstrand, 58, suffers from “seasonal blues.” The former safety representative for the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) said she wasted time and money over the pass 7 years.
“Couldn’t get it back together,” says Gay. “I had a trust fund. It took a long time before she hit my bottom. She found herself “on the streets”. About 7 years ago just after her mother’s death, the heavy drinking started.
Gay, 58, still is adjusting to a life of compromised emotions as a resident of First To Serve Rehab Program in Los Angeles.
Sober for 3 months, the over achiever, admits putting too much pressure on herself. Another part of her disease is shopping. Something she enjoys but can no longer afford.
“I feel abandoned” because holidays were the only time she got to spend with her family.
Also, her daughter said she was afraid to visit because “I would drink to ease my sadness,” according to Gay. “I agreed, yea that’s what I’ll do.”
Shannon Thompson, Case Manager at First To Serve Inc, says Gay wants this, “she wants her sobriety.”
Studies by The National Mental Health Association have shown that environmental factors can contribute to feelings of depression around the holidays too.
“The holidays are stressful enough to impact your health,” says Dr. Eric Walsh, Director of Pasadena Health Department. “It highlights your inadequacies.”
Medical experts debunk seasonal beliefs that, the “holiday blues” contribute to an increase in suicides during this time of year. In fact, researchers found that depression rates and suicides drop during the winter months and peak in the spring.
But seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is a form of depression that is closely related to the winter season, and therefore, seems to increase in frequency around the holidays.
Becky Vanderzee, Social Worker Pasadena Health Department, says, “People are impacted by the lack of sunlight, even in Southern California”.
She adds that many people leave home before sunrise, work indoors, and then return after sunset. This could affect their mood. They will be easily tired, lethargic, less sociable, and become more isolated.
It is important to note that the condition is triggered by the short, dark, cold days of winter and not the actual holidays. The causes of SAD are not completely clear.