The US National Institute of Health reports that there’s a higher incidence of depression during the Christmas season. The holidays can trigger symptoms for those who already have a history of clinical depression and bipolar disorder, while some people may have developed mental health ailments that have been building up for months.
If your symptoms of depression have worsened for more than two weeks, then it’s time to seek an appointment with a psychiatrist. Otherwise, your feelings of sadness, anxiety, and stress could just be a temporary bout of the holiday blues caused by the following:
1. Unrealistic expectations. This is one of the biggest causes of holiday depression. Comparing your holiday experience with other peoples’ Instagram photos or the picture-perfect Christmases you see in movies is a recipe for sadness. “Instead of living up to others’ expectations, spend time thinking about and creating the kind of holiday you want, doing what will bring you joy and happiness,” suggests Natural Health Advisory.
2. You’re living in Christmas past. Your holidays aren’t what they used to be and things were so much happier when you were younger. Avoid longing for the past or dwelling in the good ol’ days. If you’re holding on to memories of an ideal holiday from years ago, accept that you won’t be able to reproduce it. Instead, learn to embrace the little joys of the present, the open possibilities of the future, and life’s changes. [via: NHA]
3. Rumination. With a few days left in the year, we tend to contemplate on the shoulda-woulda-couldas. We obsess over goals we weren’t able to achieve, compare ourselves with others, and pine for things we don’t have. Psychology Today suggests that instead of focusing on what you lack, be grateful for what you have. Make a list of your achievements and blessings, create a scrapbook of this year’s memories, and try engaging in charitable activities to help you get into the happy spirit of Christmas.
4. You’re missing a loved one. For those who have gone through a separation, relocation, tragedy, or death in the family, Christmas can be difficult and lonely. In WebMD’s “Emotional Survival Guide For The Holidays,” psychiatrists suggest doing something new and different following the loss of a loved one. Creating new traditions doesn’t mean you’re forgetting the loved one who has passed; it’s simply preventing you from feeling lousy over your rigid expectations of the holidays. It’s okay to shake things up when coping with changes.
5. Family tension. You dread seeing those aunts who won’t stop pestering you about getting married, a certain uncle who gives you the heebie-jeebies, on top of a list of people you don’t look forward to seeing during reunions and parties. They key is in working around it. WedMD suggests protecting yourself from energy vampires who deplete your holiday spirit. At reunion dinners, sit yourself next to someone you like, far away from the people who give you anxiety and stress. Don’t feel bad about choosing one Christmas party over the other, especially if it’s more convenient in terms of location, and not to mention, your sanity.
6. Financial limitations. We often give ourselves immense pressure to please others during Christmas, even if it means depleting our budget. Psychology Today suggests setting personal boundaries when it comes to the money you spend on gifts and the number of social events you attend. There are ways to work around your budget, like giving DIY gifts, sending personal cards instead of expensive presents, or even skipping events that are too expensive for your pocket.
7. Alcohol and poor eating habits. Alcohol is a depressant, so those nights of excessive drinking and partying may be contributing to the blues, and not to mention, the increasing size of your waistline. Click here to learn how to avoid overindulging during the holidays.
8. Lack of self-care. You’re spending so much time and energy on your final deadlines of the year, organizing reunions, rehearsing for your office talent show, and buying gifts for every member of your extended family. If things are overwhelming, learn to delegate tasks and take a breather from the traffic and Christmas rush. Take care of your own well-being by making sure you exercise, get enough sunlight, eat right, and get enough sleep.
Crisis Line (for non-sectarian, non-judgmental telephone counseling):
Landline: (02) 893-7603
Globe Duo: 0917-8001123 / 0917-5067314
Sun Double Unlimited: 0922-8938944 / 0922-3468776
Center for Family Ministries (for spiritual counseling):
Landline: (02) 426-4289 to 92
Online resources for depression and suicide prevention: