Patient Portal (316) 691-0249

How to Get Help with Depression During the Holidays

Dec 14, 2021

If you are experiencing feelings of sadness and depression this holiday season, you are not alone. Depression during the holidays is a very common experience. For many people, the holidays are a time to look forward to. Even with the stress of meal planning and gift-giving, many people still find it to be a happy time of year. But this isn’t always the case. For some people, the holidays can be an emotionally exhausting and difficult time.

Some people experience something called Major Depressive Disorder (MDD) with a seasonal pattern. This is what some people know as Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) or may refer to as “Holiday Blues.” It’s a clinical depression that tends to present itself beginning in late fall and can go on until early spring. Research has shown that clinical depression with a seasonal pattern impacts as much as 6% of the population. But people who don’t normally struggle with depression can also have issues due to there being less daylight in the wintertime since seasonal depression has been linked with changes in light. The limited exposure to natural light can impact our body’s rhythms and neurochemical balance.

Holiday Depression Causes

What Causes Holiday Depression?

There are a number of reasons people may experience holiday depression. Some of the main reasons a person may experience depression during the holidays include:

Depression from Social Isolation

Social isolation is one of the biggest predictors of depression, especially during the holidays. Some people may have a small social circle or a lack of opportunities for socialization. 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 spending time with friends and family, and ask themselves, “Why can’t that be me?” or “Why is everyone else so much happier than I am?”

During the COVID-19 pandemic, there were also increased instances of social isolation as we practiced social distancing and avoided gathering with other people.

Winter Blues or Seasonal Affective Disorder

Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is a type of depression that’s related to changes in seasons. If you’re like most people with SAD, your symptoms start in the fall and continue into the winter months, sapping your energy and making you feel moody. This is often referred to as the “Holiday Blues” or “Winter Blues.” However, less often, SAD can cause depression in the spring or early summer for some.

Work-Related Depression

If you feel depressed about work or when you are at work, you’re not alone. Sadness, anxiety, loss of motivation, difficulty concentrating, unexplained bouts of crying, and boredom are just a small sampling of the things you may be feeling if you’re experiencing depressive symptoms at work.

When you consider that full-time employees spend an average of 8.5 hours per day working on weekdays and 5.5 hours working on weekends and holidays, it comes as no surprise that many will experience symptoms of depression while on the job.

Depression impacts over 17 million American adults each year. And data from the State of Mental Health in America 2021 survey shows that the number of people seeking help for depression increased significantly from 2019 to 2020.

Grieving Depression from Lost Family or Friends

People often remember losing family or friends during the holidays because of the memories we had when they were alive. This can often result in what is called “grief depression.” When you lose someone or something dear to you, it’s natural to feel pain and grief. Grief is a natural response to death or loss. The grieving process is an opportunity to appropriately mourn a loss and then heal. The process is helped when you acknowledge grief, find support, and allow time for grief to work.

Each year, between 5% and 9% of the population loses a close family member. But that’s not the only kind of loss that can cause grief. People can feel loss when:

While we all feel grief and loss, and each of us is unique in the ways we cope with our feelings. The grief process is normal, and most people go through it. But when grief takes over your life and you begin to feel hopeless, helpless, and worthless, then it’s time to talk to a medical professional about telling the difference between normal grief and depression.

Get Help With Holiday Depression

Getting Help with Holiday Depression

Being social is one of the greatest treatments for holiday depression, but it is often very hard for people to do. When we are depressed, often we avoid situations where we have to be social. However, if we need to encourage ourselves (or others) to be social. Social situations can change the chemical nature of our bodies. When you smile, your brain releases tiny molecules called neuropeptides to help fight off stress. Then other neurotransmitters like dopamine, serotonin, and endorphins start joining in as well. The endorphins act as a mild pain reliever while serotonin is your body’s natural antidepressant. Socializing raises our serotonin levels, thus, making us happier.

You can also 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.

Tips For Reducing Stress During The Holidays

Here are some tips to help you prepare for the holiday season and take some of the stress out of your life.

  1. Make realistic expectations for the holiday season.
  2. Set realistic goals for yourself.
  3. Pace yourself. Do not take on more responsibilities than you can handle.
  4. Make a list and prioritize the important activities. This can help make holiday tasks more manageable.
  5. Do not put all your energy into just one day, such as Christmas and New Years. The holiday cheer can be spread from one holiday event to the next.
  6. Live and enjoy the present. Dwelling on the past can lead to depression. Look to the future with optimism, not anxiety.
  7. If you are lonely, try volunteering some time to help others. Celebrate the holidays in a new way.
  8. Find holiday activities that are free, such as looking at holiday decorations, going window shopping without buying, and watching the winter weather, whether it’s a snowflake or a raindrop.
  9. 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.
  10. Limit your drinking, since excessive drinking will only increase your feelings of depression.
  11. Spend time with supportive and caring people.
  12. Reach out and make new friends.
  13. Make time to contact a long-lost friend or relative and spread some holiday cheer.
  14. Make time for yourself!
  15. Let others share the responsibilities of holiday tasks.
  16. 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.

Depression Counselling Near Me

Searching for “Depression Counselling Wichita, KS” or “Depression Counselling Near Me?” When stress and anxiety become too much and you are feeling depressed or overwhelmed, it’s time to get help. HealthCore Clinic offers culturally appropriate mental health services are designed to reduce stigma and provide a comfortable and safe environment for the management of anxiety, depression, trauma, and behavioral support for other mental health and medical diagnoses. Don’t wait to get help, speak with a depression therapist in Wichita today.

When your body’s stress response system is activated long-term, you could be at higher risk for a variety of issues, including digestive problems, weight gain, high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, and more. Talk to your doctor or HealthCore Clinic provider if you are feeling sad for long periods of time.

When Depression Becomes Overwhelming

Emergency Services

If your feelings of sadness are accompanied by suicidal thoughts, do one of the following immediately:

More Ways To Get Help With Holiday Depression