Neil Jeyasingam, a psychiatrist and lecturer at the University of Sydney, relayed a post-Christmas professional experience on the first day of the new yearâone of his patients attempted suicide after arriving home from a Christmas dinner with their children.
According to the mental health professional:
"... a recent informal survey by the American Psychiatric Association found as many as 60 per cent of psychiatrists believed that the Christmas period was associated with an increase in depression and suicides".
However, Mr Jeyasingam clarifies what he believes is a misconception about the "holiday blues". He explains that the actual Christmas and New Year period is associated with lower rates of self-harm and suicide, referring to 2005 and 2011 studiesâthe former examined the details of 140,000 suicides, and found that a lower number of male suicides occurred during the Christmas holidays.
Mr Jeyasingam states that the social connectivity, with both family and friends, of the season is "often underplayed". But, the clarification also reveals that it is the period after the holidays that represents an increased mental health risk. The 2011 study found a "worrying" increase in the number of mental health presentations during this time, while suicide attempts rose by 40 per cent in the first two weeks after January 1, according to a 1999 Danish study.
The Guardian's Zach Stafford then presented relationship-specific data on Friday, which shows that, in January, divorce filings rise by 10 per cent and divorce inquiries increase by a significant 25 per cent. Mr Stafford ponders the influence of procrastination in this context, instead of a holiday season-specific cause.
In terms of management, Mr Jeyasingam invites readers to "spare a thought about the loved one or colleague who was surprisingly quiet at the last get-together." For Lisa Keith, who wrote a piece for the PsychCentral blog at the end of September, faith, self-forgiveness, community reintegration, fresh air and getting organised are her personal tools for overcoming post-holiday difficulties.