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Seasonal Depression Around The Holidays in 2020

Dec 21, 2020

For many people, the holiday season is a fun time of the year filled with parties, celebrations, and social gatherings with family and friends. However, for many people, it is a time filled with sadness, self-reflection, loneliness, and anxiety. During COVID-19, as many of us cannot participate in the gatherings and celebrations we have in the past, it is normal to feel sad, lonely, and anxious. Many people will experience the “Holiday Blues” this holiday season.

What Causes Holiday Blues?

Sadness is a truly personal feeling. What makes one person feel sad may not affect another person. Typical sources of holiday sadness include:

Balancing the demands of shopping, parties, family obligations, and house guests may contribute to feelings of being overwhelmed and increased tension. People who do not view themselves as depressed may develop stress responses, such as:

Others may experience post-holiday sadness after New Year’s Day. This can result from built-up expectations and disappointments from the previous year, coupled with stress and fatigue.

Feeling Socially Isolated

Social isolation is one of the main elements of depression, especially during the holidays. People may have a small social circle or a lack opportunities for socialization. the COVID-19 pandemic and social distancing measures have increased feelings of social isolation. People who have feelings of disconnectedness often avoid social interactions at holiday time. Unfortunately, withdrawing often makes the feelings of loneliness and symptoms of depression worse.

These individuals may see other people celebrating, and ask themselves, “Why can’t that be me?” or “Why is everyone else so much happier than I am?”

One of the best ways to deal with social isolation is to reach out to friends or family for support. You can also try talking to a therapist or member of our behavioral health team here at HealthCore Clinic. We can help you figure out where your feelings come from and develop solutions to overcome them.

Tips For Coping With Holiday Stress & Depression During COVID-19

  1. Make realistic expectations for the holiday season.
  2. Set realistic goals for yourself. Make a list and prioritize the important activities. This can help make holiday tasks more manageable.
  3. Pace yourself. Do not take on more responsibilities than you can handle. Be realistic about what you can and cannot do.
  4. Do not put all your energy into just one day (i.e., Christmas Day, New Year’s Eve). The holiday cheer can be spread from one holiday event to the next.
  5. Live and enjoy the present. Look to the future with optimism. Don’t set yourself up for disappointment and sadness by comparing today with the good old days of the past.
  6. If you are lonely, try volunteering some time to help others.
  7. Find holiday activities that are free, such as looking at holiday decorations. Here is a list of the top local holiday light shows in 2020:
  8. Limit your drinking, since excessive drinking will only increase your feelings of depression.
  9. Try something new. Celebrate the holidays in a new way.
  10. Spend time with supportive and caring people. Use platforms like Zoom to connect while maintaining social distancing measures. Reach out and make new friends online. Make time to contact a long-lost friend or relative and spread some holiday cheer.
  11. Make time for yourself!
  12. Let others share the responsibilities of holiday tasks.
  13. Keep track of your holiday spending. Overspending can lead to depression when the bills arrive after the holidays are over. Extra bills with little budget to pay them can lead to further stress and depression.
  14. Remember that the COVID-19 vaccine has been approved and is coming.
  15. Spend time outdoors. Get some sunshine. Most people find they eat and sleep slightly more in wintertime and dislike the dark mornings and short days.

Major Depressive Disorder with Seasonal Pattern

Major depressive disorder with seasonal pattern is a type of recurrent depression that is caused by the seasons changing. Many people with this disorder develop depression symptoms during the fall, and continue to feel sad throughout the winter. Most people stop having symptoms during the spring and summer. However, some people experience seasonal depression during the spring and summer. This disorder is treated with light therapy, antidepressants, and talk therapy.

Dealing with Holiday Depression

Talk to your doctor or HealthCore provider if you are feeling sad for long periods of time. If your feelings of sadness during the holidays are accompanied by suicidal thoughts, do one of the following immediately:

You can improve your mood by practicing self-care during the holidays. Eat a healthy diet, and maintain a regular sleep pattern and exercise program. As little as 30-minutes of cardiovascular exercise can provide an immediate mood boost similar to the effects of an antidepressant medication. Joining a support group where you talk to people with similar experiences to yours can also help.

Please contact us if you need someone to talk to. We are here to help.