While the holiday season is a typically cheerful time of year, many people may feel the opposite, particularly those who suffer from mental health conditions such as chronic depression. However, even people without existing mental health problems may feel the “holiday blues” for two common reasons: loneliness and stress.
A variety of factors may cause many people to isolate themselves from friends and family during the holiday season. This can take a toll on someone mentally, particularly if they are repeatedly subjected to social media posts, movies, and other imagery depicting other people enjoying their own holiday gatherings.
Even people preparing for gatherings with large numbers of loved ones, however, may find themselves experiencing symptoms of depression, particularly if they’re responsible for hosting their group. Whether you’re striving to meet the high expectations of your family, friends, or yourself, cleaning, preparing food, and picking out the right gifts can create a significant amount of stress. If this stress builds up too much, it may cause you to start feeling depressed as you take on a negative view of yourself or look for an escape.
Regardless of the causes of your holiday depression, there are steps you can take to manage your symptoms and enjoy the season to the best of your ability. These include:
Getting out of the house: This may be your first holiday season without some or all of your family and friends. However, this does not mean you have to spend it alone at home. Whether it involves contacting family members or friends you haven’t spoken to in a long time or treating yourself to a restaurant dinner, make a plan that involves being in the company of other people during the holidays.
Accepting your best instead of “perfect:” If you’re preparing to join or host a gathering of loved ones for the holidays and are responsible for any part of the celebration, don’t judge yourself or your efforts according to the expectations of others or a “perfect” image of your results. Instead, treat both yourself and others with kindness and patience; you are making the best effort you can as an act of love to the people around you, and that is good enough.
Check in on friends and family members: You are most likely not the only person experiencing symptoms of depression during this time of year. Certain friends and family members, even those who appear happy and content, may be feeling the same way you do. Remind them you care by contacting them to find out how they are doing and wish them well for the holidays.
If your depression symptoms worsen during the holiday season, you can talk to a mental health professional at Flushing Hospital Medical Center’s Outpatient Psychiatric Clinic by calling (718) 670-5562.
If you are experiencing severe mental health symptoms such as thoughts or actions of self-harm or are contemplating suicide, please call the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s confidential, 24/7 National Help Line at 1-800-662-4357 immediately.
All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.