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Dr. Warren Throckmorton Christian Blog and Commentary

Beware Post-Christmas Stress Disorder

  • Warren Throckmorton, PhD
    Warren Throckmorton, PhD is Associate Professor of Psychology and Fellow for Psychology and Public Policy at Grove City College (PA). He co-founded the Golden Rule Pledge which advocates bullying prevention in evangelical churches. His academic articles have been published by journals of the American Psychological Association and he is past president of the American Mental Health Counselors Association. He is the author with fellow Grove City College professor, Michael Coulter, of the book, Getting Jefferson Right: Fact Checking Claims About Our Third President. Over 200 newspapers have published his columns. He can be reached at ewthrockmorton@gcc.edu.
  • 2009 Dec 30
  • Comments

Now that Christmas is past, I suspect symptoms of Post-Christmas Stress Disorder will be observed frequently (don't ask what frequently means, just go with me here). Be sure to seek treatment at the first signs of trouble.

Diagnostic Criteria for 311.5x Post-Christmas Stress Disorder

A. Four (or more) of the following symptoms have been present during the same two-week period and represent a change from previous functioning. The individual:

(1) refuses to take down Christmas decorations within one week after Christmas. (In chronic cases, leaves decorations up year round.) Note: In children, makes Christmas related requests year round;

(2) seeks out shopping opportunities on the day immediately following Christmas;

(3) describes depressed mood, more days than not (e.g., sings "Blue Christmas" repeatedly);

(4) manifests vocal tics (e.g., "Ho, ho, ho");

(5) displays compulsive Christmas related behavior (e.g., Wraps and unwraps presents even though no gift is inside);

(6) displays at least once, catatonic, expectant behavior (e.g., Stands for long periods of time, immobile, under mistletoe);

(7) describes gift returns which outnumber number of presents received;

(8) displays irrational interpersonal behavior (e.g., Calls the time and temperature recorded line to say Merry Christmas);

(9) mainfests inappropriate startle response (e.g., jumps or easily startled by video game or other novel noises); and/or

(10) is avoidant of references to Christmas (e.g., refers to "holiday trees," "holiday ornaments," "happy holidays" and/or "the Sparkle season;"

B. Symptoms do not meet criteria for Post-Christmas Adjustment Disorder

C. Symptoms cause clinically significant distress

D. Symptoms aren't due to effects of a substance (e.g., eggnog, fruitcake, punch, etc.)

Specify (for current or most recent episode)
.x1 Mild - minimum number of symptoms are net
.x2 Moderate - six or more symptoms
.x3 Severe - nearly all symptoms but without delusions/hallucinations
.x4 Severe with hallucinations (e.g., Converses with "ghost of Christmas past, present or future")
.x5 Severe with delusions (e.g., Arms self to protect against Grinch)
.x6 With trauma associated (e.g., Witnesses mother kissing Santa Claus)
.x0 Unspecified

May we all be spared this fate and to all a good night.