Christmas, Hanukkah and New Years have all passed and many people are just happy to be getting back to normal. While the holidays offer great opportunities to spend time with family and friends, they also wear us out and disrupt our routines.
What about mom and dad? This time of year it is especially common for empty-nesters, the elderly and even parents of children going back to college, to experience an emotional toll caused by the end of the holiday season and simply winter itself.
Separation anxiety is a psychological condition whereby an individual experiences excessive anxiety when it comes to separating from loved ones or home. Because of the strong emotional attachment and time spent together during the holidays, leaving loved ones and familiar settings can cause anxiety at this time. In fact, those who are left behind can experience this as well since once everyone leaves, life goes back to ho-hum and those they really love and enjoy are gone.
Another consideration is Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a type of depression that occurs in some people due to decreased amounts of daylight during the winter. If you live in the northern states or areas where there is little sun, caregivers and family members should look out for symptoms of Seasonal affective Disorder. Signs include lack of interest in social engagement, changes in emotions, lack of interest in things they once enjoyed and general sadness and change in behavior. Using a UV sun light during the day and keeping windows open may help but some may need medication.
You or your loved ones may not have separation anxiety or experience a negative effect due to lack of sun but it's a very real issue for some and for the elderly, it can be even worse. Keep an eye on your family member post-holidays to see if they are displaying any signs of sadness that is out of the ordinary. If you notice any changes in their behavior or demeanor, talk with a trusted physician to see what can be done to help the situation.