Post-Vacation Depression: Understanding the Symptoms and Finding Solutions
Going on holiday is an exciting moment if you’re under pressure or fed up with too many boring daily chores. You can find relief and have a new start after having some rest. But have you ever experienced sadness when a journey comes to an end?
It is normal for such feelings to occur occasionally, and being depressed following an exciting holiday is not a big issue. However, for some individuals, this melancholy may progress into a depressive disorder. If you experience depressive symptoms after each wonderful trip, you might be experiencing post-vacation depression.
Post-vacation depression is not a clinically recognized illness, and there is still a great deal to discover about this unique condition. Continue reading to learn more about post-vacation blues and how to ease back into daily living after a trip.
Symptoms of Post-trip Depression
The following signs may appear in addition to feeling generally sad after vacation:
- General anxiety or discomfort
- Increased agitation
- A feeling of nostalgia
- Trouble sleeping.
In addition to the aforementioned indicators, you may also display the following symptoms associated with general depression:
- Consistently experiencing sadness, anxiety, or emptiness
- Pessimistic feelings
- Feeling agitated, annoyed, or restless
- Loss of interest in typically pleasant activities
- Exhaustion or a lack of energy
- Difficulties concentrating
- Alterations in sleeping habits
- Altered appetite
- Unforeseen weight changes
- Inexplicable aches and pains in the body.
For How Long Do the Symptoms Last?
After returning from vacation, symptoms may persist for up to two weeks or more. They may impact how well someone performs at work, study, or in relationships.
However, if you are experiencing some of the aforementioned symptoms almost daily, for most of the day, for two weeks or more, you may be experiencing depression. Consulting with a mental health professional is the right thing to do.
What Causes Depression After Vacation?
Feeling depressed after vacation is a multifactorial phenomenon. The causes of post-vacation depression can vary from person to person. Still, some common factors include:
- Routine disruption. People frequently alter their typical work, sleep, and food schedules while on holiday. It can be challenging for them to revert to their normal patterns once they return home.
- Reality shock. When being on holiday, people frequently feel an increased sense of freedom, adventure, and excitement that is not usual in their daily lives. Returning to their routine can be upsetting and unpleasant, leaving them depressed or disappointed.
- Lack of social interaction. It might be challenging to recreate the opportunities for socializing and connecting with others as much as a person does during vacations.
- Negative consequences. Individuals may experience unfavorable side effects from their trip, such as illnesses, insect bites, overindulgence in alcohol and food, jet lag, or sunburn that can lead to depressive symptoms.
- Financial strain. Vacations can be expensive, and returning home to bills and debt can cause stress and anxiety.
- Unfulfilled expectations. When people’s vacation expectations aren’t met, they might feel disappointed and unsatisfied.
How to Overcome Post-Vacation Depression?
After a trip, feeling down and depressed is not always a sign of a persistent condition. By making some routine changes and practicing certain self-help techniques, we can control these emotions independently. Here are some pointers and techniques to assist you in getting back into your routine after your holiday and getting over your sadness.
1. Avoid working while on holiday
Many people desire to pack as many activities as possible into their vacations to maximize their free time. But, according to 2012 research, persons who had a more relaxing holiday typically report higher levels of health and well-being than those who relaxed less over their vacations.
Given this, you might want to consider setting out for a few days to relax and sleep in. Also, working while on holiday can interfere with your time and make you regret not taking full advantage of your time off later.
2. Set aside a day for adjustments
Many people decide to make the most of their holiday time by flying home late on Sunday night and reporting for work the next morning. By doing this, you don’t give yourself a chance to recover from your holiday fatigue and get back into the swing of things. However, giving yourself a transition day can help you unpack and thoroughly decompress before returning to your routine. If possible, plan your return trip on a Friday or Saturday; if you must return on a Sunday, take Monday off to rest.
3. Connect with your loved ones
Having an empty day alone once the holiday festivities have ended could feel a little depressing. By scheduling calm and enjoyable activities with other people, you may avoid the contrast effect. When you’re depressed, withdrawing is simple to do. But, even when at first you don’t feel like spending time in person with friends and other people you care about, it might give you a much-needed lift.
4. Plan something to look forward
Making plans for fun things in the future will help you fight the post-vacation blues. It may be as simple as a weekend getaway or more involved, like a vacation to a destination you’ve always wanted to see. As a result, you’ll have something to look forward to, which will lift your spirits.
5. Practice self-care
Be sure to look after your physical and mental health by practicing self-care. Eat healthily, exercise, and get adequate sleep. Spend some time doing things you like, such as reading a book, taking a bath, or listening to music or podcasts.
6. Reflect on your vacation
Think back on your trip for a while. Look at photographs, keep a notebook, or tell stories. Your mood may improve, and your return to your routine may be simpler if you recall the enjoyable occasions. Reflecting on your good memories can help you overcome exhaustion after vacation. There are so many emotional benefits of vacation and reflecting on them can help you overcome post-vacation depression.
When and How to Seek Professional Help?
If you persistently feel depressed, hopeless, or experience any other bad emotions, it may indicate that you are going beyond the ordinary post-vacation blues. It may be necessary in certain cases to seek expert assistance.
Here are a few signs you need professional help:
- If you are experiencing a persistent feeling of sadness or hopelessness that lasts for weeks or months.
- If you have lost interest in activities you used to enjoy, such as hobbies or spending time with friends.
- If you find that you eat more or less than usual.
- If you find it difficult to concentrate or make decisions.
- In some cases, depression can also cause physical symptoms such as headaches, stomach problems, or other unexplained pains.
Treatment Options for Depression
There are several types of professional help available for depression, including:
- Psychotherapy. A therapist can help you identify the underlying causes of your depression and help develop coping strategies to manage your symptoms. There are several types of psychotherapy, including cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and interpersonal therapy.
- Medications. Medications are usually prescribed when the symptoms of depression worsen and do not respond to therapy. Your primary care physician or a psychiatrist can prescribe you medicine and monitor your response to it. One type of medication is antidepressants which can be effective in reducing symptoms of depression.
To Sum Up
The blues following the holidays won’t last forever. It’s critical to take action to lessen the effects of post-vacation depression on your regular life if you are feeling it. If your symptoms are severe and interfere with your everyday activities, you may want to consider getting expert assistance. Post-vacation depression is treatable with the correct care, and you can resume enjoying your regular life.
Dr. Umar Javed, MBBS, is a licensed physician who specializes in mental healthcare. He helps create the most up-to-date, science-backed, and detailed patient information for online mental health clinic MEDvidi, using his expertise and research skills. His particular area of interest and research includes the most common mental health problems facing adults, including ADHD, anxiety, depression, insomnia, and others.