During the holiday season, it is not uncommon for people to experience feelings of sadness, anxiety, loneliness, and other mental health conditions. For many, it is supposed to be a joyous time where people connect with loved ones and spend time resting from their work and other forms of stress in life. For others, this period can actually cause them to feel depressed because they might be spending more time at home alone or with friends and family members than they are used to, and this can bring its own challenges for some people.
The holiday blues may refer to feelings of sadness or depression that people might sometimes experience during the holidays (typically in November & December, although this can also refer to other times of the year).
Anyone can experience these feelings, and a lot of this can be a result of the pressure and high demands of the time (such as the need and expectation to be happy and joyous constantly), as well as de-stressing from day to day life and adjusting to a brief period of time that is supposed to be enjoyed.
This can vary from person to person. Certain things that might be a source of joy for some people, might be a source of great stress or anxiety for others. For instance, if a person is particularly introverted, being around family for extended periods of time could cause them to feel stressed and uncomfortable, as they might not feel comfortable around them, and may feel like they can't find time for themselves.
Holiday sadness might also be related to people's feelings about their lives, as they might find themselves being more reflective during this time, and in doing so, this might cause holiday stress and general feelings of unhappiness. It could also be related to conditions such as seasonal affective disorder.
Some of the common signs and symptoms of holiday blues include financial stress (as people might be concerned about how to purchase presents or being able to afford to host their family and friends during this time), a general feeling of fatigue that could be connected with a particularly stressful job that the person is now resting from, and general stress related to feeling the need to express 'holiday cheer' or to celebrate the occasion with excessive drinking and festivities.
Elsewhere, the person might have unrealistic expectations about preparing for the holiday season, and this could contribute greatly to their holiday blues. For instance, some neighborhoods spend thousands on holiday decorations for their homes, and this could cause a great deal of stress for a person who is struggling financially and who might not be able to afford to follow suit. They might feel that they are letting down their family and loved ones, and this could worsen their feelings about themselves.
People who are experiencing negative feelings around the holidays might also experience frequent headaches, they might overeat, or could develop insomnia. It is also possible that they might not be able to connect with family and friends, and they could also develop mental health conditions such as depression and anxiety.
Major depressive disorder is a form of clinical depression that can occur at certain times of the year. It can sometimes work in a seasonal pattern, and therefore, people find themselves experiencing symptoms of a kind of depression referred to as seasonal affective disorder (SAD) in summer and winter.
People experiencing SAD might start feeling depressed, they may not find the same level of interest or enjoyment in the things they love, they may begin to lose energy and feel restless, they might have concentration problems, they might begin to neglect self-care routines, they might experience a shift in their eating patterns, and in some cases, they might have suicidal thoughts.
Holiday depression differs in terms of it not necessarily being a clinical form of depression. Instead, it could be that a person simply starts feeling sad, they feel the weight of expectations during the season, and they find themselves struggling with difficult emotions during this period. These feelings might cease to be once the holiday season has ended, whereas a person experiencing SAD could struggle with it for several months.
Seeking support from a mental health professional can greatly help in dealing with the feelings of sadness and stress that people might experience during the holidays. There are also a range of different changes people can make in their lives, as well as important activities they can take part in which might help the situation and the way they feel.
For instance, it is important for people to set realistic goals and expectations for themselves and for the holiday season as well. The most important thing is to enjoy this period and spend time with oneself and with friends and family, in whatever way makes the individual feel most comfortable and happy.
If people struggle with loneliness during this period, they could consider volunteering at a local shelter or engaging in other community activities that will enable them to meet other people and also feel good about the positive impact they are having on the community.
Whether it's Christmas Day, Thanksgiving day, or any other major holiday, it's important to keep oneself grounded and set realistic expectations for the event, as well as not build up so much anticipation for the event to the point where it can cause stress, anxiety, or depression. These events are supposed to be enjoyed, and worrying about them being 'perfect' can cause more stress than is necessary.
Other ways to avoid feeling depressed or overwhelmed during the holiday season could include simply taking just one day at a time and focusing on enjoying the little things. For example, taking a drive into the city and checking out the holiday lights, meeting up with friends to have a hot chocolate in a cafe, or simply watching some good shows on the TV.
It's also important to be present and refrain from comparing today with the past. While there might be memories to be shared and enjoyed with friends and family, it's also important to live in the moment and enjoy what is happening right now. The holidays could present opportunities, such as meeting new friends, trying out newly discovered hobbies, rediscovering old hobbies, and simply enjoying the occasion.
If people find themselves developing a mental illness as a result of holiday depression, or if they are experiencing symptoms of SAD, anxiety, or any condition, it might be time to seek professional help and support in order to address the situation. Here at GIA Miami, we understand that everyone's journey is unique, and will craft a personalized treatment program to meet your needs.
Our staff are all supportive and caring people and are trained to deliver various forms of treatment. This includes talk therapy in order to help people to overcome feelings of depression and loneliness. We can also facilitate group therapy to help our clients practice skills and tools that will help them to overcome sadness during the holidays, as well as in life in general.
If you or a loved one are struggling with holiday depression, SAD, or any other form of mental health condition, GIA Miami can provide you with evidence-based treatment, such as TMS therapy, depression and anxiety treatment, advice and support, and much more. Get in contact today to start your journey to recovery.
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