Thanks to the abundance of information available online to warn potential tourists of “busy weeks” at various vacation destinations, I was able to see that the majority of colleges and universities take a one week Spring Break sometime between mid-February and late March. This means that many schools are in still session during the weeks before and after Easter, and students who attend school far from home may not be able to spend the holiday with their family.
Although “holiday blues” are typically associated with winter time, many students may experience some escalated gloominess while they’re away at college and away from their family at Easter (or any other holiday, for that matter.)
Wondering why this happens? There are a few reasons to consider. Students may have friends at school that were able to travel home for the holiday, so the dorms may be empty. Unusual quietness and lack of friends may cause feelings of loneliness. The added stress and tiredness related to a heavy course load near the end of the semester may also add to these “Easter blues”. Things may seem even worse if the student is accustomed to celebrating Easter with family and friends back home, and they have spoken to people on the phone that described the festivities that are taking place without them.
That said, most of us have experienced sadness or felt a little down, even around holidays, but those feelings typically pass within a few days. Is that depression? Is depression different than sadness?
According to Wikipedia, “A major depressive disorder (also known as clinical depression, major depression, unipolar depression, or unipolar disorder) is a mental disorder characterized by an all-encompassing low mood accompanied by low self-esteem, and loss of interest or pleasure in normally enjoyable activities. It interferes with daily life, normal functioning, and causes pain for both the person with the disorder and those who care about him or her. Depression is a common but serious illness, and most that experience it need treatment to get better.”
The organization called Mental Health America (formerly known as the National Mental Health Association) discusses holiday depression by explaining, “The holiday season can be a time full of joy, cheer, parties and family gatherings. But for many people, it is a time of self-evaluation, loneliness, reflection on past failures and anxiety about an uncertain future” but keep in mind that holiday depression is not necessarily the same thing as clinical depression.
Taking that info into consideration may make you assume that feeling gloomy around Easter time because you miss your family and you have a lot of homework may not be actual clinical depression, but if you think you may be depressed, please tell someone that you trust or seek help from a professional.
I remember inviting one of my friends home with me for Easter brunch a few different times. Her family lived a few hours away and she had a work study job on campus, so it didn’t make sense to drive all the way home for one day. If you are stuck at school on a holiday you typically celebrate, perhaps you can spend the day with a friend who lives nearby or get together with a group of people that also didn’t travel back home.
Don’t be embarrassed if you feel stressed and upset about school, or if you think you may be depressed. The busy life of a full-time college student can seem overwhelming at times, and it’s very common for college students to become depressed. It’s important to realize that depression is a powerful feeling of hopelessness, gloom, and sadness. Depression is more than just a “gloomy mood,” but rather a relentless problem that you can’t control. Depression disrupts your ability to function and live your life normally.
Once again, the best thing you can do if you are having feelings of depression is get help. You can go to your campus counseling center or clinic, call an emergency hotline, or call emergency services. If you live in a dorm, tell your resident assistant what’s going on and they can also assist you with finding the proper help. If you or someone you know is suicidal, you should help immediately as well.
Melissa Rhone earned her Bachelor of Music in Education from the University of Tampa. She resides in the Tampa Bay area and enjoys writing about college, pop culture, and epilepsy awareness.
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