We are supposed to be merry, jolly, and exuberantly happy during the holiday season, right? This messaging is hardwired into our collective cultural psyche, kicking in around Thanksgiving and persisting until January 2nd each and every year. For many people, this time of year is indeed a joyous season filled with fun social events, baking of cookies, and wrapping gifts in cheery ribbons and bows. For others, however, the holiday season is very emotionally trying. Dealing with depression over the holidays can be particularly difficult indeed.
There are, however, some steps one can take to help alleviate some of the feelings of loss, sorrow, or inadequacy that spring up this time of year. While it isn’t necessary to paste a fake grin on one’s face and gut out the weeks ahead in silent suffering, using some of the tips below can definitely help in dealing with depression over the holidays.
Why Do We Feel Depressed During the Holidays?
The holiday season can be a wonderful time of year for making happy memories with family and friends. With abundant opportunities to socialize and spend quality time with loved ones, the holidays can enrich relationships and even grow one’s circle of friends. For some people, however, the holidays can trigger wistful pangs of nostalgia for days gone by or lost loved ones, those feelings of loss or regret that somehow invade what should be the happiest time of the year.
The holidays seem to draw to the surface difficult feelings we successfully repress the other eleven months of the year. Some people might be experiencing financial challenges, so the holiday season can make one feel inadequate in the gift-giving department. Some people may be recent empty-nesters who, during the holidays, crave the days when their families were all under one roof. Some may have lost a loved one during the year, and the holidays only amplify the loss when viewing the empty chair at the holiday table. The melancholy that can accompany the holiday season is very real.
8 Tips For Dealing With Depression Over the Holidays
To help offset some of the sadness that might invade your holiday season, consider these helpful tips:
- Volunteer. Nothing can lift a person’s mood faster than helping others who have it worse than them. Offer to spearhead a toy drive, help out at a food pantry or soup kitchen, volunteer at an animal shelter, or take meals to the homebound.
- Enrich your life. Sometimes the soul just needs to be fed a little during this time of year. Rediscover your passion for the arts and go see a choir performance, a holiday play or an art exhibit.
- Exercise. Getting regular exercise is essential to warding off the blues during the holidays. Get outside for a brisk walk or re-up your gym membership for a spin class, some dance cardio, or weight lifting.
- Self-pampering. We often neglect self-care, which can exacerbate the low mood during the holiday season. Go get a nice, long massage or a facial to revive your spirits.
- Go anyway. It is often easier to hide away and isolate oneself from the festivities, but why not just go anyway? Get yourself spruced up and join a gathering, at least for an hour. You may be pleasantly surprised.
- Be productive. Instead of caving into the temptation to sit on the couch and sulk, why not set a goal and make it happen? Something as simple as planting some herbs or cleaning out the garage can lift your mood.
- Do a good deed. A selfless act of charity is a powerful mood enhancer. Do a friend, a family member, or a perfect stranger a simple act of kindness. Offer to run an errand, make them a meal, rake the leaves, or buy them lunch.
- Get lost in a good book. Pick an interest you have, whether it is a self-help book, a historical biography, a book about politics, or a racy romance novel, and lose yourself in a good book.
Getting Help for Depression
When all else fails, do reach out and get help for depression. Dealing with depression over the holidays may seem overwhelming, leaving you frozen in bed and unable to function. Getting professional help from a mental health professional is essential for persistent depression. Some of the signs of clinical depression include:
- Low mood most of the time
- Insomnia or hypersomnia
- Changes in eating habits resulting in weight gain or loss
- Feelings of despair, worthlessness, and sadness
- Slowed motor movements
- Loss of interest in things you once enjoyed
- Suicidal thoughts
Treatment for depression usually involves a two-pronged approach, including both antidepressant drug therapy and psychotherapy. Antidepressants help to regulate the brain chemicals, such as serotonin, norepinephrine, and dopamine, which may be out of balance. There are dozens of antidepressants on the market from which the doctor will select the one he or she feels is most appropriate. These medications typically take 4-6 weeks to become effective in reducing symptoms.
Psychotherapy is the talk therapy that allows the individual to discuss life issues or past traumas that may be contributing to the depression with a trained psychologist. The psychologist will guide the individual through the processing of the pain associated with the loss or event, and help them to better manage their emotions. Group therapy is also available for individuals who have experienced the loss of a loved one, offering a safe space to share about their grief journey.
The Treatment Specialist Provides Insightful Information About Depression
The Treatment Specialist is a valued online resource for individuals struggling with depression, whether it is during the holidays or any other time of the year. Just gaining a basic understanding about depression and the treatment options can help empower someone who is dealing with depression over the holidays. For more information about how to get the help you need, please contact The Treatment Specialist today at (866) 644-7911.