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Change in routine, season can cause the blues

Main Line Health September 13, 2017 General Wellness By Paula Durlofsky, PhD

Transitioning from the lazy days of summer to a hectic fall schedule can be stressful. It’s not uncommon to feel “blue” about getting back into a busy work or school routine. Parents with a child going off to kindergarten, high school or even college for the first time may experience these feelings, and retirees may even experience similar feelings.

Transitions, such as seasonal and schedule changes, reflect the reality that our lives continually change, evolve and transform. And when there is change, there is also loss. Furthermore, for those that are more emotionally sensitive to change of any kind, this time of year can trigger the onset of depression, anxiety and substance abuse.

When we're feeling blue, we function with a mindset that we will bounce back fairly quickly. If the feelings linger longer, however, and begin to interfere with our daily functioning and disrupt our daily rhythms, it might be something more serious. Common symptoms of clinical depression include:

  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Increased feelings of guilt
  • Indecisiveness
  • Changes in sleep and appetite
  • Changes in weight
  • Lack of pleasure in usually enjoyable activities
  • Feeling more irritable and agitated
  • Excessive crying
  • Social isolation

Here are five tips for tackling the blues:

  • Avoid overscheduling – Ease into active days slowly.
  • Give yourself permission to say “no” – If you’re feeling overwhelmed by sudden changes in routine, allow yourself the option to say “no” to unnecessary commitments. Pace the amount of activities you take on.
  • Prioritize getting a full night’s sleep – A minimum of seven to eight hours of sleep per night helps regulate mood, decreases anxiety and depression, and improves concentration.
  • Stay socially connected to friends and family – Maintaining relationships with those we love helps to combat stress, depression and anxiety.
  • Seek professional help if the blues linger – Depression can be effectively treated.

Dr. Paula Durlofsky is a psychologist in private practice in Bryn Mawr, whose practice focuses on psychological issues affecting individuals, couples and families. She is affiliated with Bryn Mawr Hospital and Lankenau Medical Center, part of Main Line Health.