Depression: Vacationer’s Uninvited Guest

From United Press International

What about the summer vacation? Does it really refresh and flush away the rigors and monotony of the workaday world, or does it end in frustration and despair?

A USC psychology professor warns that summer vacations can actually trigger serious cases of depression.

Chaytor Mason said that occurs because people seldom realize the lofty expectations they had before embarking on their sunny trek to the mountains, to the prairies, to the oceans white with foam.


“We start thinking of the things we want to do--that we’ve always wanted to see New York, but we’ve drawn up a list that may take years to accomplish it all,” said Mason, a faculty member of USC’s Institute for Safety and Systems Management.

‘A Lot of Frustration’

“And this can build up a lot of frustration,” he said. “When you plan things too carefully and they don’t come out, you get angry, you feel hurt.

“Vacations cause depression because people have planned them so precisely and very tactfully and they just can’t do all the things they wanted, plus they spent about three times more than they wanted to.”

Mason said too much planning defeats the purpose of a vacation. “Remember, you don’t have to see every monument, museum and volcano. Save the volcano for next time,” he said.

Mason, who also maintains a private clinical psychology practice, said his patients often succumb to “post-vacation blues,” not because they had a rollicking time and hate to be back, but because they really did not take the vacation for themselves.

‘Vacation for Someone Else’

“I think about 80% of the people in this world vacation for somebody else,” Mason said. “They go see old Uncle Herman graduate from college at the age of 90, or they go see Aunt Bessie’s piano recital.


“There’s nothing wrong with that, but it doesn’t enlarge their world any. And often times, there’s hidden resentment.”

Mason said people should take a vacation to “vacate one’s mind of other responsibilities, so we should think in terms of vacationing for ourselves rather than somebody else.”