Traveling With Holiday Depression
Experts share tips for dealing with holiday blues away from home.
Are you traveling for the holidays? Ready for all the family gatherings, old
friends, Mom's cake, the white and drifting snow? It may depend on what happens
to your mood when holidays approach. In fact, if you get depressed around the
holidays, travel can seem more like a nightmare than a vacation. Here is what
experts have to say about traveling with holiday depression.
Traveling With Depression: What to Expect
Travel, according to Philip Muskin, MD, can affect people in different ways.
Muskin is a professor of clinical psychiatry and chief of consultation-liaison
psychiatry at Columbia University Medical Center in New York. He tells WebMD,
"On one hand, being in a fresh setting may be very beneficial. You're in a new
location, on vacation, and you don't need to get up at 6 in the morning for the
daily commute. In this fresh environment, stressors are reduced, and you feel a
heck of a lot better without the pressures that the holiday blues have been
On the other hand, Muskin says, travel is far more stressful than it used to
be. "We like to think of it as over the river and through the woods," he says.
"But it's not. It's more like eight hours in traffic on the Jersey turnpike or
long, seemingly endless lines in the airport." He points out that there are
fewer, more crowded flights and far more airport congestion now than in the
"Travel can be very stressful," he says, "and if you're depressed, your
frustration tolerance doesn't have that roll-with-the-punches resiliency." As a
result, when something happens like your flight getting delayed, you are less
likely to tell yourself, "It's no big deal."
"Travel is a process," Muskin says, "and it can have a major negative
impact, even on people who aren't depressed."
Holiday Depression: Empower Yourself
"Preparation is essential any time you travel," says Helen Grusd, PhD, a
clinical psychologist in Beverly Hills, Calif. and past president of the
LA County Psychological Association. "Preparation is your best inoculation
The preparation Grusd is talking about isn't deciding what clothes you are
going to take. "You need to prepare yourself emotionally. How are you going to