Although the holidays are meant to be joyous, many of us experience holiday sadness or the winter blues. Dr. Jeffrey Borenstein, president and CEO of the Brain & Behavior Research Foundation, said, “The holidays can be an especially difficult time for people who are depressed or grieving. People who are sad or lonely often feel out of sync when everyone else seems to be celebrating, and the holidays can exacerbate these feelings.”
The researchers suggest that if you’re feeling depressed, the best way to overcome that is to ask for help from others or seek out a therapist. If you are currently in treatment for depression, they suggest continuing right through the holidays.
Dr. Borenstein added, “The holidays are challenging for many people, but symptoms of depression are a sign to seek professional help. The most important take-home message is that depression is treatable and people should not suffer in silence; they should seek help.”
Although it may seem difficult to want to be around people when you are experiencing depression, Dr. Borenstein suggests that being around friends and family is actually a good idea for someone who is depressed.
Dr. Borenstein has other suggestions to combat the holiday blues, such as lowering your expectations about the holidays, setting aside family issues, focusing on the things that make you happy and appreciating your relationships. Exercise, too, can be beneficial for those with depression as it can help boost mood.
People with depression often turn to alcohol and other substances as a coping mechanism, but these coping mechanisms can actually worsen feelings of depression, anxiety and stress and should be avoided.
Lastly, holiday depression may also be triggered by seasonal affective disorder (SAD), which is a form of depression caused by a lack of sunlight. If you suffer from SAD, you may require light therapy, counseling or medication.