Experts See More January Blues

"Now I have to accept the fact that that's what she's choosing to do. I guess that's a loss for me, because she's one of my best friends," she said.

Although her sister's new drinking problem has been in the making for months, Val said something about reflecting in January made it more poignant.

"In the beginning of the year, you take stock of your life and what's going on in it, and things that are bothering you come to the forefront," Val said.

Aside from holiday disillusionment, self-reflection at New Year's is a major contributor to January blues, Taylor said.

"When you look back over the year, and people are asking how you are doing, it brings up a lot of what you lost," she said.

January Depression Doesn't Have to Have the Last Word

Despite all the January blues going around, psychologists at the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline said there is not usually a sharp increase in suicide help calls during the month. There was, however, a annual spike in calls to the hotline over the course of 2008.

Suicide calls were up by 10,000 calls per month in 2008 compared with 2007, and peaked in October, with a total of 52,233 calls.

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline spokeswoman Amanda Lehner said the calls "may or may not be connected to the economic crisis," but since all calls are anonymous, it is hard for the Lifeline employees to tell.

"They don't typically tend to increase in January," said Gillian Murphy, a psychiatric social worker for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. "I always thought you'd see a huge rise. You really just see a small blip and then it goes back."

Murphy said March, April and May are the busiest times of year for calls to the 24-hour 800-273-TALK hot line, which can help individuals, family and friends concerned about suicide risk, or even just concerned about someone's mental state. But she said suicides happen year-round.

"Don't just isolate it to this is the one bad month," said Murphy. "And don't think by asking that you are being rude or triggering if you outright ask, 'Are you thinking of suicide?' It's the complete opposite."

For the less severe January blues, Taylor and Val have a few suggestions.

Val, who also has a master's in counseling, self-reflection around New Year's should be used for good, even if it can be painful.

"We really have all year. Why in January is this stuff sitting in front of our face?" Val said. "But I guess we need time to take stock and redirect ourselves -- otherwise, maybe we wouldn't take action to improve things in our lives."

"We are a product of our habits," she said.

Taylor, however, had different advice.

"It's really about adapting," said Taylor, who suggested patients try to ground themselves in their normal sleep, work and eating routines.

"No drastic changes," Taylor said. That means no lofty New Year's resolutions either. "Cut the goals way down -- smaller accomplishments, reaching out to other people often makes people feel a lot better."

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