Thursday, December 7, 2023
  Community, Health

By Saira Cabrera

RIO GRANDE VALLEY, TEXAS – The holiday season has started, but for many, the merry and bright days are far from jolly.

In the United States, the holiday season typically begins in November after Thanksgiving and is celebrated through January. But for 14 percent of the American population, the holiday blues can trigger feelings of anxiety or depression during the holiday season.   


According to Dr. Alcides Amador – assistant professor of the UTRGV School of Medicine's Department of Psychiatry and medical director of the Texas Child Mental Health Care Consortium, Texas Child Health Access Through Telemedicine (TCHATT) – the stress of the holiday season, such as memories about the death of a loved one during the holiday season, and unrealistic expectations could increase the risk of getting holiday blues.  

"The holiday season can produce depression or cause sadness for various reasons," he said. "A person may be unable to make it home for the holidays or have a difficult financial situation. Even if someone faces challenging circumstances, it can be difficult to celebrate the holidays, which are often associated with happiness and joy, and could prompt holiday blues."

Dr. Alcides Amador
Dr. Alcides Amador is a board-certified Child and Adolescent psychiatrist at the Department of Psychiatry at the UTRGV School of Medicine who believes anyone experiencing holiday blues can find the help they need to enjoy the holiday season. (UTRGV Photo by Jennifer Galindo)

These "blues" can manifest as depression, anxiety, fatigue, a sense of loneliness, frustration, or disappointment.

The holiday season can also be overwhelming during a change and can often be associated with challenging demands, from reoccurring gatherings to family commitments and multiple gift exchanges. These expectations can often come with higher levels of anxiety and stress.

"If someone is experiencing sadness, stress, anxiety, or depression during the holidays, it's important to remember that you are not alone," Amador said. "There are many ways and resources to help manage these symptoms and get the help you need to combat these blues."


Things that could help avoid getting the holiday blues are, according to Amador:

  • Sticking to regular routines,
  • Getting exercise,
  • Setting a holiday budget, and
  • Sticking to what is possible and not stressing out oneself.

"And make sure to find some time to enjoy the holiday season with people who support and care for you," Amador said.

To help prevent holiday blues, consider setting realistic expectations for the holiday season and sticking to a budget.

"Do not overextend yourself and plan to spend time with the people who care and support you," he said. "This can help you enjoy the holiday season a lot more."

And if a loved one has passed away, Amador says it is helpful to find ways to still recognize their importance in life that is meaningful, "but don't overextend yourself."


For those experiencing pre- and post-holiday depression, Amador recommends seeking professional help and speaking with a doctor about experiencing holiday blues.

Talking to a mental health professional is one of the key steps to decreasing the blues.

"If you or someone you know are feeling stressed, anxious, sad, angry, or feel like something is not right during the holiday season, it is important to reach out for help from a mental health professional," said Amador.

There are many resources available for the community. For UTRGV students, the Counseling Center provides resources on campus for Mental Health Resources.

In addition, the UTRGV School of Medicine's Office of Student Health & Wellness also provides Counseling and Crisis Intervention Services to medical students. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Suicide Prevention website offers helpful online resources as well.

"Our clinicians at UT Health RGV are available to consult with patients who have concerns about holiday blues and the stress of the holiday season. We can also help our patients if they want to consult with us in our psychiatric office," said Amador. "Reach out, get a consultation, and we can examine and talk about mental health overall. You can find and get help; we are here for our patients."

UT Health RGV provides mental health services that could aid in preventing holiday blues. To visit with Dr. Amador and other behavioral health scientists and psychiatrists, visit


The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley (UTRGV) was created by the Texas Legislature in 2013 as the first major public university of the 21st century in Texas. This transformative initiative provided the opportunity to expand educational opportunities in the Rio Grande Valley, including a new School of Medicine, and made it possible for residents of the region to benefit from the Permanent University Fund – a public endowment contributing support to the University of Texas System and other institutions.

UTRGV has campuses and off-campus research and teaching sites throughout the Rio Grande Valley including in Boca Chica Beach, Brownsville (formerly The University of Texas at Brownsville campus), Edinburg (formerly The University of Texas-Pan American campus), Harlingen, McAllen, Port Isabel, Rio Grande City, and South Padre Island. UTRGV, a comprehensive academic institution, enrolled its first class in the fall of 2015, and the School of Medicine welcomed its first class in the summer of 2016.