How to prevent depression around the holidays

Although the holidays are meant to be a joyous time, for some it could trigger depression. Emotional and financial stress, which is often associated with the end-of-the-year festivities, can very well trigger depression, but experts suggest there are ways to prevent depression from striking this time of year.

Patricia Woods, liaison service at New York-Presbyterian Queens, explained, “There are so many social activities, chores, and events during the holiday season. You simply can’t do it all. Keep your expectations reasonable and set realistic goals about what you can and cannot accomplish. Say ‘no’ when you need to. Your priority is you and your family. Spread the joy out over the entire holiday season rather than placing all of the importance on one specific day or event. In doing so, you’ll be less likely to become overwhelmed.”

Woods added, “If you and a family member tend to bicker, this will probably be the case during the holidays as well. Prepare yourself for the inevitable. You can’t change your relationships in one day. Enjoy your time with your family without expecting them to be someone else on a holiday.”

Woods suggests identifying stressful triggers and working on reducing them or avoiding them altogether. For example, if last year you attempted to complete six pies and that was a stress ordeal, only focus on making one or two, so you do not get overstressed in trying to reach your goal.

Woods also explained, “Try to make time for others as well. For example, you can volunteer at a soup kitchen or prepare a few gifts for families in need. Doing things for others who are less fortunate than yourself will help you to keep the holidays in perspective. Rather than thinking about what you can’t buy, be grateful for what you have and all of the positive things in your life. Think about the extra time and joy that you have to share with your friends and family.”

Lastly, it is very important to recognize the symptoms of depression early on. “If you are experiencing some signs of depression: crying spells, difficulty sleeping, feelings of sadness or guilt, and appetite changes, reach out and get help. If these symptoms show up in your daily list, slow down and reach out to friends and family for extra support,” Woods concluded.

If symptoms are persistent after the holidays, seek out professional help in order to treat your depression.


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