Holidays are supposed to be a time of joy and celebration, but for some people they are anything but. Depression may occur at any time of the year, but the stress and anxiety during the months of November and December may cause even those who are usually content to experience loneliness and a lack of fulfillment.
There are several reasons why you may develop depression during the holidays and we have some suggestions for handling them:
Some reasons and suggestions for holiday depression include:
1. Social isolation is one of the biggest predictors of depression, especially during the holidays. Some people may have a small social circle or a lack of opportunities for socialization. People who have feelings of disconnectedness often avoid social interactions at holiday time. Unfortunately, withdrawing often makes the feelings of loneliness and symptoms of depression worse. These individuals may see other people spending time with friends and family, and ask themselves, “Why can’t that be me?” or “Why is everyone else so much happier than I am?” One of the best ways to deal with social isolation is to reach out to friends or family for support. You can also try talking to a therapist. They can help you figure out where your feelings come from and develop solutions to overcome them.
2. Grieving during the holidays. Some people may be keenly aware of the loss of a loved one during the holiday season. There are several ways to stave off the holiday blues that may descend at this time: Begin a new tradition, Try planning a family outing or vacation, instead of spending the holidays at home. Do something for someone else to make their holiday a little easier.
3. Holiday pressures. Feel free to leave an event if you aren’t comfortable. Be willing to tell other, “I’m not up for this right now.” Learn to say “No” It is okay to take care of yourself.
Additional suggestions in dealing with the holidays include:
1. Volunteer: Helping others can also be very helpful for you too. For example you might try:
a. working at a soup kitchen, volunteer at your local Salvation army or homeless shelter
b. Helping your neighbor with a yard or house task
2. Get back to nature: Going for a walk in the park or around your neighborhood my help you relax and feel better whey you are feeling overwhelmed.
3. Practice Self Care – you can improve your mood by practicing self-care during the holidays. Eat a healthy diet, and maintain a regular sleep pattern and exercise program. Joining a support group where you talk to people with similar experiences to yours can also help.
Important to remember: When dealing with holiday depression, please talk to your doctor if you are feeling sad for long periods of time. If your feelings of sadness during the holidays are accompanied by suicidal thoughts, do one of the following immediately:
• Call 911.
• Go immediately to a hospital emergency room.
• Call CONTACT’s 24 Hour Crisis Helpline at 815-233-4357 (HELP)
Help really is just a phone call away!