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Successfully Dealing With Holiday Depression

Successfully Dealing With Holiday Depression

Every year we’re bombarded by the images and reminders that the holiday season is supposed to be a joyous time of celebration spent in the company of friends and family.

Don’t worry… If your holidays feel like anything but, you’re far from alone…

For tens, if not hundreds, of thousands of Americans, the holidays aren’t just a time of wonder and joy, but also of chaos and stress. And that stress can compound matters for those who are already struggling with depression or seasonal affective disorder.

You may even enjoy the holidays and look forward to them again and again each year. But, somehow, year after year, no matter what you do to prevent them, the stress and depression return just as surely as the parties, tables of food, bows, and gifts.

Dealing with and overcoming depression is by no means simple, but understanding the causes of it and how to cope with and prevent the feelings that lead to it can mean a much happier holiday, both for you and those you love…

What Causes Holiday Depression?

Holiday depression is often something of an enigma…

You may be sitting there right now thinking about the holidays and looking forward to having dinner with friends and family you haven’t seen in a long time and finding the perfect gift for that perfect someone. Then, two weeks later, and seemingly from out of nowhere you’re feeling down and wishing the holidays would just be over with already.

How can you be so depressed about the holidays, again, when you were so excited for them to get here just a couple of weeks ago?

Understanding some of the things that lead, or at lest contribute, to holiday depression is the first step to overcoming it:

  • Feelings of Loneliness – If you’re not near people with whom you feel close, any sense of isolation you may be able to disregard during the year can intensify dramatically during the holidays. Watching other people celebrate and enjoy one another can be especially difficult when you’re feeling lonely and you should take steps to stave of such isolation by staying in touch with family friends and spending time with friends and colleagues who are in your area.
  • Lack of Sleep – Add the hectic nature of the holidays on to our already busy lives, and it’s no surprise that some people get even less sleep than they normally would this time of year. To make matters worse, anxiety and depression themselves only add to sleeplessness. And, sleeplessness, in turn, compound and intensify anxiety and depression. It’s a vicious circle. Accordingly, it’s imperative that you find ways to relax and self-soothe – whether that means curling up with a good book, taking a warm bath, or listening to relaxing music – especially before bed.
  • High Expectations – We all have certain expectations as to what the holidays should be. Just beware that the higher your expectations are, the more you set yourself up for a let down. Setting unreasonably high expectations can easily add to the stress you’re already feeling and will only intensify your feelings of depression if/when those expectations aren’t met. This doesn’t mean you should have no expectations or goals when it comes to the holidays, just be realistic and enjoy the time you do have.
  • Ignoring You – As with sleep, the hectic nature of the holidays makes it all too easy to skimp on self-care. Yet, this is precisely when we need it most! Ignoring yourself and the care you’re used to can quickly weigh on your good spirits. Try to maintain as much of your normal schedule as possible, including time to exercise, meditate, practice yoga, take walks, relax in the evenings, or however you practice self-care during the rest of the year.
  • Loss of Loved Ones – While the pain of losing someone close is difficult at any time of year, it’s often much more intense during the holidays. After all, the holidays are meant to be the time we spend with friends and family, above all others, and the lack of a loved one’s presence is often most pronounced during the holidays. This is especially true for the first few holidays after their passing. Try turning this around by remembering the good times you shared with that person and bring some of those memories into your current celebrations. Sharing your loss in a positive light with others can go a long way to alleviating the pain of that person’s passing.

Obviously, some of the more common triggers for holiday depression simply can’t be avoided. As much fun as the holidays can be, they bring with them no small amount of discomfort and stress. But, how you prepare for and react to the triggers of holiday depression can make all the difference in your ability to cope with and overcome any holiday blues you may experience.

What If Nothing Seems To Help?

While the steps above can be helpful for those who don’t typically struggle with depression, for those that suffer depression during other times of the year they may bring little relief.

If this is the case for you or someone you love, it’s important to seek professional help.

Under no circumstances should persistent depression be ignored. Nor should you simply tell yourself that your depression is just “par for the holiday course,” as there may be other physiological or psychological causes for your depression that you’re overlooking.

If you routinely struggle with depression, or you contend with holiday depression year after year, consult your physician or a licensed mental health professional.

No one needs to suffer alone during the holidays, or any other time of year. Reach out and get the professional help you need this holiday… It just may well be best present of all, and it’s a present you can give yourself!

If you have any questions regarding this article, or if I may be of any other assistance, please don’t hesitate to contact me at 510-735-8868 or email me at scott@beyondwordspsychotherapy.com. I look forward to speaking with you and helping you create a life you truly love living!

Beyond Words Psychotherapy – Professional Help for Holiday Depression in California

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