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Tips for Dealing With Seasonal Depression

December 14, 2007

For some, Christmas and the holiday season is not a time of joy and cheer but of depression, loneliness, anxiety and self-evaluation. Financial constraints, not being able to spend time with family and/or friends, or conversely, spending too much time with them, can all lead to Christmas and holiday depression. The added stresses, unrealistic expectations and fatigue of the season can also contribute to depression. People with few friends or family members may feel even more alone and isolated, while people with a large circle of family and friends may feel stressed by having to find the “perfect” gift and entertain for large get-togethers.

Consider some holiday depression stressors:

• Separation or divorce can leave people celebrating Christmas and the holiday season alone.
• People who have lost a loved one are especially mindful of that loss.
• The activities of the holidays can place a significant burden on already full schedules.
• The costs involved with the holidays can place a significant burden on already tight budgets.

Although the stressors that can cause holiday depression cannot be completely eliminated, there are a number of suggestions that can help keep Christmas and holiday depression at a minimum.

• Schedule obligations and parties wisely. If trying to cram another obligation into the already over-filled schedule causes stress, cancel and spend the evening doing something relaxing.
• Recognize the sadness of absent loved ones instead of denying it.
• Set reasonable financial goals based on what the budget can afford.
• Remember that Christmas depression is not permanent. Moods typically improve once the holidays are over and once the worst of winter is over.
• Set reasonable time goals while employing time management techniques like Christmas shopping during the off-peak season and shopping online or by mail order. Unique, thoughtful and handmade gifts often much more pleasure than a gift bought out of obligation.
• Be especially mindful of diet during the holiday season. High sugar and carbohydrate laden foods typical of the holidays will only make depression matters worse. Allow indulgences during the holidays, but with limitations.
• Put old issues aside when dealing with family. If that is not possible, consider limiting the time spent together.

People, especially children, can also experience a post-holiday let down after Christmas, when the brightness and togetherness of the season make way to cabin fever confinement and a return to the “same old, same old.”

Although there are many easily identifiable causes for holiday depression, there are also some people who cannot pinpoint the exact cause of their Christmas depression. They know they are “supposed to” feel happy during the holiday season but instead of feeling happy, the flat, lackluster cloud of depression hangs over them.

Regardless of the cause of depression during Christmas and the holiday season, sufferers of depression during the holiday season might experience excess fatigue, a change in sleeping patterns, irritability and feelings of sadness. People who do not display the outward symptoms of depression during Christmas and the holiday season might develop other stress responses like over-eating or excessive drinking.

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