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Baylor College of Medicine News

Talking about holidays keeps blues at bay

The advice is tried and true: it is best to talk about your problems rather than bottle them up. And with the holiday season at hand, doctors at Baylor College of Medicine say the advice might be helpful for adults and kids alike at keeping the holiday blues at bay.

"The holidays are known as a time when family and friends get together. This may be stressful for some, and if you are already suffering from depression or have bad memories associated with this time of year, it can cause what is known as the holiday blues," said Dr. James Bray, associate professor of family and community medicine at BCM.

Yuletime could trigger distress

Adults may find it stressful to deal with family conflict while children might be dealing with a different type of emotional issue. If a child is away from a parent for any number of reasons, or if this is the first holiday without a deceased loved one, the child may begin to show signs of emotional distress.

"It might not be clinical depression, but the child could begin to act differently," said Bray. "They may act out in an effort for more attention, or they may withdraw, becoming quiet and uninterested in what is going on."

Address problems

Rather than ignoring the problems, Bray suggests talking about what is bothering the child. Even if a solution is not found, this can help the child understand why they are feeling upset and relieve some of the stress.

Here are some helpful tips for adults and kids to get through the season:

Always have a contingency plan. If a child is going to spend the holidays with one parent, make sure both parents talk about a backup plan in case travel plans fall through. If new family members are meeting for the first time over the holidays, talk about unique needs beforehand. Someone may be allergic to pets or certain types of foods, and planning ahead may help prevent awkward situations.

Keeping family traditions alive helps kids, and adults, feel more comfortable. Talk to your children about what family holiday rituals they enjoy and try to incorporate to keep the holiday spirit going.

If a child is withdrawn during this time of year, try to see the situation from their point of view. Seeing things from a child's perspective might help a parent find a new solution to the problem.

Show support

"Even if a child has a rough holiday, showing support is important. If they have good memories of family and times together, it will help set the tone for future holidays to come," said Bray.