It’s January and the holidays are now behind us – we should be happy, right?
Yes and no.
While many of us spent the month of December wishing the stress of preparing meals, visiting family and shopping for gifts would end, there is a common let-down phase that follows the busy month. This is often referred to as post-holiday depression and it plagues many of us without even realizing it.
Post-holiday depression is the period of adjusting back to normal life after the season of merrymaking. All the extra activity during November and December was just enough to interrupt our daily routines where we feel a bit down when it’s all gone. How can we make ourselves feel better?
Many websites and articles suggest meditation, exercise, and time management will help beat the post-holiday blues. Those are all great ideas, but in reality, the answer lies in your gut.
Consider this: Holiday celebrations typically involve unhealthy eating and drinking habits which can disrupt the microbial balance in your GI tract. This leads to dysbiosis (an unbalanced gut) and associated health conditions like fatigue, inflammation, and depression.
Wait – gut imbalance can cause depression? You bet it can, and it could be serious.
Research has recently identified that microbiota is important in the pathogenesis of various neuropsychiatric disorders like schizophrenia and depression. In turn, the brain influences gut functions including motility, acid secretion, the production of bicarbonates, the production of mucus, and the immune response. Therefore, the brain and the gut form a feedback loop mediated by changes in the microbiota. Studies have shown that the microbiota of depressed patients is different than non-depressed. While the research is in its infancy and it’s still unclear if the same is true for mild depression, it does suggest that a healthy gut, along with many other benefits, will help alleviate those post-holiday blues all year long.
Written by Susan J Hewlings PhD, RD IgY Nutrition
1. Fengli Lv, Suling Chen, Lina Wang, et.al. The role of microbiota in the pathogenesis of schizophrenia and major depressive disorder and the possibility of targeting microbiota as a treatment option. Oncotarget. 2017 Nov 21; 8(59): 100899–100907. Published online 2017 Sep 27. doi: 10.18632/oncotarget.21284