During this time of year, radio and TV ads would have us believe we should all feel merry and bright. Sadly, that’s not always the case. According to the National Institute of Health, many people experience depression during the holiday season.
Some of the most common reasons people experience depression during this time of year are:
Financial Hardship – ‘Tis the season to be jolly, unless your bank account is overdrawn and your credit cards maxed out. Not having a budget to buy loved ones presents, especially our children, can feel devastating.
Stress – It’s easy to become overwhelmed from the added stress of shopping, planning and travel. Studies have found this is particularly true for women.
Grief and Loneliness – Many people feel incredibly lonely during the holidays. Whether it’s from being single, recently divorced, or having just lost a loved one, the holidays are often a reminder of what we don’t have but wish we did.
If you can relate and are looking for some relief, here are ways you can cope with your depression this holiday season:
Feel Your Feelings – If you are grieving a loss, it’s important that you’re honest about your feelings. Your instinct may be to put on a brave face for friends and family, but forcing yourself to be happy for the sake of others will only make matters worse. Sadness and grief are a part of life, no matter the season, and it is 100% okay for you to feel your feelings.
Give Something Besides Money – If a lack of finances is the primary source of your mood, look for other ways you can give to others. You can volunteer at a local charity. Are you a good cook? Offer to cook for friends and family. If your talent is writing, write your kids a bedtime story or, if it’s painting, paint a beautiful mural on their wall. At the end of the day, thoughtful gifts from your heart will leave the greatest lasting impression.
Focus on Self Care – It’s important that you care for yourself during the holiday season. Eat right, drink filtered water, exercise, and get plenty of rest. While these steps are important for everyone throughout the entire year, they are particularly important for those suffering from depression during the holidays.
Seek Help – Depression is nothing to take lightly. If your depression has lingered, is getting worse, or you’re having suicidal thoughts, it’s imperative that you seek help from a qualified mental health professional. They will be able to help you navigate your overwhelming emotions and offer tools to manage symptoms.
If you’d like to explore treatment options, please get in touch with me. You don’t have to suffer alone. I would be more than happy to speak with you about how I may be able to help.
Chelsy A. Castro, JD, MA, AM, LCSW