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Mental Health

Dealing with depression during the holidays

The holidays are a period of year that many people look forward to. Despite the difficulties of food planning, travel, and present giving, a lot of us find it to be a joyful period of the year. Yet, this is not always the reality. The holidays may be a challenging and extremely stressful time for some people.

According to an American Psychological Association study, 38% of participants reported that their stressful situations increased during the holiday period. Stress can raise the likelihood of disease, drug abuse, anxiety, and sadness. This was especially noticeable during the pandemic when there were numerous concerns about how to keep activities and family events safe during COVID-19.

Feeling moody around the holidays represents an extremely real, yet manageable,  We’ll go through commonly asked questions concerning seasonal affective disorder, as well as how to get help and encourage others this holiday season.

Do holiday depression rates increase?

For years, clinicians and psychologists have recorded trends of increasing depressive disorders during the holidays. Furthermore, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), 64% of individuals who have a mental illness indicated that their illnesses worsened during the holidays.

What causes this to occur? As the holidays arrive, they bring with them an array of events, social contacts, and problems. Sometimes the tension is caused by the strain of having too many duties. In other circumstances, it may be related to difficult memories from the previous or worry over family functions.

Apart from the holidays, however, many people suffer from Major Depressive Disorder (MDD) with a seasonal pattern (also known as seasonal affective disorder). Seasonal affective disorder is a type of depression that begins in the late fall and can continue until the springtime. Because it is linked to shifts in light during the winter, it is more prevalent in northern climates. The absence of organic light can have an effect on our body’s cycles and neurochemistry stability. When the days appear shorter, the darkness lasts longer, and the winter weather keeps us holed up indoors, it might alter your viewpoint.

According to research, severe depression with a seasonal pattern affects up to 6% of the community. Also, it is typical for individuals who don’t normally experience depression to feel it briefly during the colder months.

What things are related to holiday depression?

The holidays are a stereotypically happy time when everyone is supposed to be encircled by dear ones and take advantage of every moment of the period. If a person doesn’t feel positive or joyful, or when they can’t be with their dear ones, the seeming cheer around them might cause them to feel even more depressed, and often alone in their emotions, which increases anxiety and depression.

Everyone celebrates the holiday season differently, and personal situations play a large role in how and why somebody might experience anxiety or despair. Yet, these are among the most likely reasons for holiday depression.

  • Stress in general (this may be due to responsibilities, more social interactions, and less time to relax and recharge)
  • Physical and mental exhaustion
  • Obligation-related pressures (may be related to travel, meal planning, gift-giving, and more)
  • Financial anxiety
  • Excessive expectations are frequently induced by exaggerated depictions of the holidays on television, in films, in the media, and on social networks.
  • Travel stress from congested airports to traffic delays, not to add the impacts of jet lag, there’s a lot to be concerned about during this high-stakes travel period.
  • Family gatherings that are stressful
  • The first holiday season after the loss of someone you care about
  • Loneliness
  • Dissatisfaction with not being ready to see loved ones
  • Isolation from the pandemic and concerns about gathering safely

What are the signs of seasonal depression and the holiday blues?

Seasonal depression symptoms are comparable to depression symptoms that happen at any point in the year.

  • Fatigue or an energy shortage
  • You are no longer interested in previous activities.
  • Feelings of shame, uselessness, or sadness that persist
  • Personal relationships are changing.
  • Sleeping patterns have shifted.
  • Changes in appetite, as well as losing weight or increase
  • Difficulties focusing or making decisions
  • Working difficulties
  • Irritability in general
  • Self-harm

Can someone who does not generally deal with depression become depressed around the holidays?

Yes. This is sometimes associated with a diagnosis of Major Depressive Disorder with a repetitive pattern. The holiday season introduces new tensions and demands, both personally and externally. Being overburdened by such holiday-related pressures can result in negative symptoms.

What else should loved ones do to help someone suffering from depression over the holidays?

Keep in touch with your loved ones on a regular basis

Even those who appear to be doing well. People might sometimes cover their feelings of worry or sadness behind a brave front by smiling. When, in reality, they would benefit from speaking with someone about how they genuinely feel. When someone takes the effort to reach out, it confirms the fact that we’re seen and have close companions who worry about us.

Listen with sympathy

You don’t need to fully comprehend how someone feels to appreciate them. Being present to allow somebody to express their thoughts in a secure setting can have a significant impact on someone suffering from depression. Interact by making supportive words or requesting follow-up questions. Resist encouraging them to smile or adding, “Oh, things could be worse.” These types of comments can dismiss and reduce the other person’s thoughts, making them regret opening out. Make It provides some wonderful resources for learning further regarding what to say as well as what not to say when dealing with someone struggling.

Recommend chatting to an expert gently

Prompted a friend or family member to see a psychiatrist. They can conduct a tailored assessment to identify what that unique person requires to begin feeling much better. Those suffering from depression (seasonal or other) can learn long-term stress management techniques, negotiate painful feelings and events, and discover serenity with expert assistance, especially over the holidays.

What can someone suffering from depression do to take proper care of themselves during the holidays?

There are numerous ways to maintain your psychological health throughout the holidays. Some of these methods may be more effective for you compared to others. So make sure to test a few to see what works best for you and creates a difference in the way you feel.

  • Make certain that your goals are reasonable. Consider whether you have unreasonable expectations of yourself. Or maybe you’re demanding too much from another person. Afterward, examine how those expectations affect you. Are they beneficial or tiring?
  • Try with saying “no.” You’re only one person, and there’s a limit to how much you can manage in a single day or holiday. Assure yourself that it is acceptable to say no.
  • Minimize your contact with outside sources of holiday stress. Take a vacation from social networks if viewing other people’s holiday images leads you to compare yourself. Discover winter sports to do (alone or with a group) that aren’t related to the holidays, such as sledding.
  • Don’t neglect self-care. Continue to do yoga if it helps you manage tension. Interact with friends and family as often as possible if spending quality time with them helps. Make more time to pamper yourself and be willing to try new self-care techniques.
  • Consult with a psychotherapist. Talk therapy may assist you in dealing with stress and depression as well as anxiety symptoms. In addition, if you’re suffering from holiday-related tension or seasonal affective disorder, your psychotherapist may suggest light box treatment, medication, or beneficial lifestyle modifications to help ease some of your difficulties.

Don’t delay talking to someone about your Holiday blues

The holidays can provide a variety of difficulties. Moreover, whenever it relates to anxiety and psychological issues, there’s a propensity to desire to stick it out and see what happens. Yet, if you are concerned or depressed, this is the perfect moment to talk to anyone.

Communicate with reliable friends or family members to convey your emotions and ease some of the stress. Because holiday stress is so prevalent, they may be experiencing the same way. Realizing that someone else understands and is there to support you might make you both feel good. You can also seek the assistance of a mental health expert. Together, you’ll be able to work through your feelings, find strategies to reduce tension and feel more like yourself again, this Holiday period and beyond.