The holiday season can be a tough time for those that suffer from depression, but what about those that don’t necessarily struggle all year? Depression is a mental health disorder characterized by a loss of interest in activities as well as a persistently sad mood.
Depression can affect anyone at any time, but why do more people suffer during the holiday season?
The Holiday Season
Many people find themselves feeling down in the dumps during the holiday season due to the time of year. For many, melancholy in the fall deepens to depression in the winter. Researchers agree that those who suffer from seasonal depression are all sensitive to light, or the lack of it. Those that suffer from seasonal depression tend to feel better when exposed to light.
Others find that the lack of activity drives them into a downward spiral. Regular exercise is a powerful way to combat seasonal depression. Exercising regularly will boost serotonin, endorphins, and other feel-good brain chemicals.
Another reason that many find themselves suffering from seasonal depression is the increased stress from family or school activities. The holidays are a time for cherishing those closest to you, but for those that might have unresolved family issues, the season can be a dreadful time. Others feel as if they need to meet expectations, whether that be passing classes or having a stellar career. This pressure can lead many into a spiral of sadness.
And – not to forget – the charged political climate in the US these days could lead to vigorous disagreements between family members who do not share the same beliefs.
How to Deal with Holiday Depression
First, don’t give in to the temptation to stay inside on those cold, dreary days. Many feel sorely tempted to stay inside and hide from the weather and world alike (or their relatives), but it’s essential to avoid reclusiveness. Much the same as light exercise, a quick walk can improve someone’s overall mood in a matter of minutes.
A great way to combat holiday depression is to reach out to someone. Many find solace in talking to their priest or a close friend. Others find comfort in speaking to a physician or a therapist. Being able to express one’s feelings is very important when trying to break free from that downward spiral.
Other coping mechanisms include light therapy. Being exposed to light can boost someone’s mood almost instantly. A daily dose of bright light, especially in the mornings, can be an effective mood-elevating form of therapy. There are multiple sources of high-quality season affective disorder lamps, including www.northernlighttechnologies.com (they are not associated with Cady Wellness Institute in any way. I, Dr. Cady, just like their stuff, and it has been incredibly useful for some of my patients.).
And, if your family consists of political animals with beliefs absolutely opposed to your own, then simply not engaging in debate, avoiding the conflicts, and emphasizing your love for your family members may be helpful.
If you find yourself suffering from holiday depression this winter, consider reaching out to us here at Cady Wellness Institute or other mental health providers here in town. At CWI, we use a multi-modal approach to help patients achieve their personal and mental health goals. No matter the underlying issue, we emphasize treating to remission where the patient is clinically well and not just “a little better.”
May your turkey be tasty, your holidays jolly, and may the wonder and spirit of the season uplift you and perhaps even carry your forward.