External and Internal Pressures

Commercialization and materialism may lead some people to feel conflicted, and, thus, blue, Bentley says.

“We live in a culture that splits what the holiday means,” he said. “There are both religious and secular meanings to the holidays. We may be divided between an outward feeling of obligation to buy things and an inward orientation of trying to figure out what life means.”

Also, as daylight-saving time ends and shorter days and colder weather set in, some people react negatively and associate their sadness with the holidays.

“Holiday depression can actually be seasonal affective disorder, or SAD, which is a diagnosable condition related to seasonal variations of light,” Pruett said.

Beat the Blues

Holiday blues don’t have to linger. Wish says there are ways to improve your outlook during the holidays.

One way to get rid of the blues is to change your expectations and not demand that your holidays resemble a Norman Rockwell painting, he says. He also recommends surrounding yourself with people who make you feel optimistic.

“Associate with people you enjoy being around,” he said.

Cobb adds that you should not be too hard on yourself about feeling blue during the holidays.

“We do ourselves a disservice when we try to force ourselves to feel something we don’t really feel or to do something we don’t want to,” she said. “It’s important to ask yourself, ‘Do I truly feel jolly or am I bah humbug?’ And if it’s bah humbug, then that’s OK.”