Can the Holidays Cause Depression?

People tend to associate the holiday season with food, good cheer, and family togetherness. Everyone seems to be chipper, running around shopping for Christmas presents, or looking forward to nights surrounded by  friends and family.

However, for many, holiday depression is a very real concern. The holiday season can be a stressful time where loneliness, anxiety, and fatigue can consume your mind. Commonly known as the “holiday blues”, depression associated with the Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s holidays occurs much more frequently than you may expect. The American Psychological Association conducted a survey in which 38% of people interviewed reported that feelings of fatigue, stress, irritability, bloating, and sadness increased during the months of November and December.

Causes of Holiday Depression

Common factors related to holiday depression include, but are not limited to, financial pressures, isolation, over-commitment, and prior loss of family members. People experiencing holiday depression may also be suffering from seasonal affective disorder, otherwise known as seasonal depression. As the weather gets colder and more overcast, and the days get shorter, we are exposed to less sun light.. Humans and animals alike change their behavior when there is less sunlight, and these changes can result in more drastic temperament changes for some.  Bears for instance don’t get out of bed for months.

Symptoms Associated with Holiday Depression

The symptoms of holiday depression are very similar to those of clinical depression and encompass both physical and emotional signs.

The symptoms can include

  • Headaches
  • Excessive eating/drinking
  • Loss of apatite
  • Insomnia
  • Mood swings
  • Loss of sex drive
  • Weight gain.
  • Fatigue
  • Loss of interest or enjoyment

Emotionally, a person may be feeling hopeless, irritable, miserable, and in severe cases, suicidal.

What should I do if I’m suffering from holiday depression?

During the holidays, it is important to have realistic expectations about yourself and the amount of energy you can put into celebrations without damaging yourself.

If you feel you may be suffering from holiday related depression, there are a few things you can try to alleviate some of the stress, including

  • Meditation
  • Exercise
  • Limiting stressful family interaction
  • Increasing healthy family interactions
  • Reaching out to those around you during times of anxiety.
  • Set aside time to take care of you

When to get help:

If symptoms become too severe, or if you’re experiencing suicidal thoughts, it is imperative that you speak to a health care professional right away. Healthpointe is here to help. If you suspect that you’re suffering from seasonal depression, or if you’d like to speak to a psychologist in regards to your mental health, we can be contacted at (888) 719-8448, or you can schedule an appointment online. If medical care isn’t accessible to you, remember that you are not on your own. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline can be reached 24/7 at 1-800-273-8255 and is staffed with counselors trained specifically in suicide prevention tactics.

*Medically approved by Dr. Levon Margolin and Dr. Roman Schulze

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About Miranda Eastman

Miranda is a long-time Southern California resident and Whittier College alumnus with a deep love for the outdoors and enthusiasm for all things travel. When not working, she can be found exploring via train, plane, or automobile (and occasionally, on the open sea).

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