~ The Blues: Holiday or Anyday ~
I met a girl
who sang the blues and I asked her for some happy news,
but she just smiled and
"The Blues" tend to be a short-lived response
lasting only a few days to a few weeks around the holiday season or a particular
life-changing event e.g. birth of a child, graduating from high school
or college, sending a child off to school. Characteristics of the Blues
is that the emotions—sadness, loneliness, depression, anxiety—although
intense and unsetteling, are generally short-lived and usually subside
within a few weeks once a daily routine is resumed.
The Blues can occur during or after the holidays
"Holiday Blues", or after the birth of a child "Postpartum Blues." The
Holiday Blues often a result of a mis-match between high expectations for
the perfect holiday combined with memories of holidays past and loved ones
no longer present and the reality of the present holiday. Postpartum Blues
may occur following the birth of a baby, as the mother adjusts to a life
forever changed. The "Empty Nest Syndrome" could also be viewed as another
variation of The Blues.
Blues vs. Depression
A person experiencing the Blues,
especially symptoms of hopelessness and depression consistently for
more than two weeks or if the feelings intensify, a simple case of the
blues may in reality be a serious case of depression. With Depression,
the symptoms are present nearly every day and persist for the majority
of the day for at least 2 weeks, occurring
together during the same time frame, and causing a level of distress or
impairment that interferes with important aspects of daily life e.g. work,
self care and social activities.
Concerning symptoms include:
Someone experiencing the "blues" for more than two
weeks weeks should seek professional help from physicians, mental health
care providers, clergy, crisis lines, support groups, or mental health
centers. Talking with a professional or taking a mental health screening
test can help assess whether it's the "blues" or depression. Those with
suicidal thoughts or ideation need to seek immediate care with their physician,
crisis line or the nearest hospital emergency department.
Persistent sad, anxious, or empty mood.
Sleeping too much or too little, middle-of-the night
or early morning waking.
Reduced appetite and weight loss or increased appetite
and weight gain.
Loss of interest or pleasure in activities, including
Irritability or restlessness.
Difficulty thinking, concentrating, remembering or
Fatigue or loss of energy.
Thoughts of death or suicide.
Feeling inappropriate guilt, hopelessness or worthlessness.
The Blues & Grief
With many losses, the pain never entirely departs,
rather it becomes a part of the bereaved, tucked away in a corner somewhere
in the deep recesses of the heart. What happens is that over time the intense
initial painful emotions lessen to a level that allows the grieving person
to function. There it remains at a constant low level ache, which with
time may be overridden. The grief is no longer a daily all-consuming emotion.
One of the side affects of the grief response
is experiencing periodic bouts of "The Blues" triggered by old memories
and sudden, unexpected reminders that can bring the intensity of the grief
feelings back anew. These are referred to as "STUG" responses by Therese
Rando or "Subsequent, Temporary, Upsurges of Grief." In her book Treament
of Complicated Mourning Rando describes a STUG reactions as "brief
periods of intense grief which occur when a catalyst reminds one of the
absence of the loved one or resurrects memories of the death, the loved
one, or feelings about the loss. It is important for the grieving person
and their healthcare providers both to recognize that such reactions are
usually healthy and understandable, but are often incorrectly diagnosed
as "pathological" responses.
For More Information
This site has a variety of articles written about
the Blues—Holiday or Anyday. There are also articles with information pertaining
to some of the complications of "The Blues" namely depression and suicide.
Finally several links are included for ways of dealing with the blues.
Some of the resources are new articles, others are links to information
from the original version of Journey of Hearts.™
Fortunately, much of the information on grief and loss is timeless so the
main content on grief and loss created for the original version of the
site is still accurate, informative and relevant.
See the Emergency
911 Page for links to immediate resources
if you are feeling helpless,
hopeless, overwhelmingly depressed, or suicidal.
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