Even though the holidays are meant to bring happiness and excitement, some may find themselves dealing with sadness and overwhelm instead. As many people struggle with seasonal depression during the year, it’s important to understand what this condition is, what causes it, and how to cope with depression during the holidays.
Also known as seasonal affective disorder (SAD), seasonal depression has all the same effects as the typical mental health condition that causes severe sadness. The difference is that many people end up with depression during the holidays due to unique reasons.
At particular times of the year, individuals begin to feel heavy sadness, loneliness, and other depressive symptoms. People of all ages, including children, teenagers, adults, and seniors, can struggle with depression around the holidays.
Although these feelings can show up in a variety of ways, there are a handful of signs that point to someone suffering from this mental health condition. Some of the most common symptoms of seasonal depression are:
- Constant sadness or unhappiness
- Trouble concentrating at work or school
- Struggles maintaining sleep habits
- Frequent fatigue
- Isolation from family and friends during the holidays
- Problems with self-esteem
Multiples studies have shown that seasonal depression during the holidays is a real condition that affects approximately 6% of people at various times of the year. It is often shown with a seasonal pattern as part of major depressive disorder (MDD) but is called seasonal affective disorder (SAD).
The most common time that people experience seasonal depression is when summer transitions into fall. It can last until the early portion of spring or longer, depending on whether a person gets help managing their emotions.
Even those who don’t typically deal with depression may experience its symptoms as the holiday season rolls around. Although this time of year is meant to bring feelings of joy and comfort, it can have adverse effects on many people.
One of the main causes of depression during the holidays is the stress it brings. A lot of people feel overwhelmed as they take on a lot of responsibilities when it comes to planning family events, work get-togethers, and other seasonal activities. The busier someone gets, the more likely they are to get depressed and feel down.
The change in seasons may also be a reason for depression around the holidays as the shorter days mean less natural light. This can negatively impact a person’s neurochemical balance.
Some people may begin to feel depressed as they miss people who are no longer in their lives. This could bring memories of loved ones who have passed away or broken relationships such as divorce.
If you want to ensure you enjoy this time of year, it’s crucial to learn steps for dealing with depression during the holidays.
It is important to say “no” when something comes up that you’re not mentally prepared for. Don’t feel like you have to attend local activities or social gatherings if you’re not up for it.
Setting traditions is key to any enjoyable holiday season when it comes to avoiding depression. Whether it’s time with family or vacationing to a new destination, do something that is meaningful to you every year.
Few things are better at getting your mind off yourself than by volunteering to help others. Seek out opportunities where you can serve at soup kitchens, fundraisers, gift drives, or by simply helping a loved one.
Getting out and enjoying nature are good for the soul and for your mental health. Many people avoid seasonal depression around the holidays by going on walks, visiting local parks, or even camping out.
Even people struggling with seasonal depression can benefit from getting help from professional treatment. If you’re managing seasonal affective disorder, consider reaching out to the team at Orange County Behavioral Health. We offer the top depression treatment for people struggling at any time of the year.