Healthy Mind

Christmas depression: how to tackle the holiday blues

It is at this time that unrealistic expectations can be placed on us, which can result in us feeling a little to very depressed.  Figures show that the suicide rate is higher during December than any other month. What is Christmas Depression and how can we combat it?

What is Christmas Depression?

Depression at Christmas time can be triggered by a number of things: losses, failures, money problems or loneliness.  However, Christmas depression can also have nothing to do with anything specific. As Christmas is supposed to be the happiest time of the year people find it more difficult to reach out for help at this time.  And those without an obvious reason for their depression feel that they really shouldn’t be depressed yet some can barely drag themselves out of bed.

Christmas depression has become widely more recognised.  People have become more educated and more understanding about the phenomenon and may already even know that a loved one is suffering from depression before the loved one even knows themself.

Why do we feel this way?

People fail to recognize that Christmas is stressful enough to trigger a depression. Sometimes the need to produce; food, presents, parties are enough to seriously frustrate a person right into a depression. Feeling disconnected with the Christmas holidays can easily lead to a mild to moderate depression.

What can we do? Don’t ignore it!

Unfortunately people who find themselves depressed and do nothing about it are prone to staying depressed.  Depression can interfere with job and college performance, friendships, romantic relationships, parenting ability and self-care.  Whether dealing with a loss or change or simply feeling overwhelmed by Christmas sadness, the number one most important thing anyone can do is to tell someone.

Asking for help is a sign of strength, not weakness.

If you are alone at Christmas time and you realise you are coming down with holiday depression, reach out to someone by phone, and whether it is a friend, a relative, or a professional, just call someone. There is nothing to be ashamed of and there are plenty of people willing and able to assist you.  A bad moment (even a really long one that last several weeks) does not have to ruin a future. 

Try to set ‘Christmas boundaries’ while you are coping with the depression. ‘Christmas boundaries’ include things like not placing unrealistic expectations on yourself, scaling down Christmas to a level that feels more reasonable to you, accepting that you cannot to afford to get everyone a present or attend all the parties.  Come up with alternatives, such as Secret Santa or organise to meet with different groups of friends on the same night.  Let people know how you are feeling, they will understand!