It is Christmas week, the season of joy… right? Well, not for everyone. According to the National Alliance of Mental Illness, they report that,
“ that approximately 24% of people with a diagnosed mental illness find that the holidays make their condition “a lot” worse and 40% “somewhat” worse… ‘For many people the holiday season is not always the most wonderful time of the year’ said NAMI medical director Ken Duckworth. “What the survey shows is a tremendous need for people to reach out and watch out for each other in keeping with the spirit of the season.”
‘The holiday season beams a spotlight on everything that is difficult about living with depression,” said a Massachusetts woman who responded to the survey. “The pressure to be joyful and social is tenfold.”
This additional load of anxiety and depression has been dubbed as the “Holiday Blues” or a case of “Holiday Depression.” Though what are the reasons for this? Many believe that the correlation can be boiled down to four main points:
People love to show off their holidays through social media, either it is showing massive Christmas gatherings or people gifting other luxurious items like cars and Rolex watches. Some that see this can start to produce these feelings by tricking themselves thinking that what they see is the expectation and “falling short” only being able to spend a few hundred for gifts. This is especially true for those who may have lost their job or fallen under financial hardship. Such feelings can be compounded by struggles with social anxiety, which often is heightened during the holidays.
Those who have few friends or family members may become particularly aware of their solitude over the season when many are enjoying time with their loved ones. This is especially true this season due to Covid.
For many people, the holidays can magnify the grief of a loved one who may have recently passed away. Grief typically follows the death of a loved one, it can also occur as a result of a romantic collapse, divorce, or other familial dysfunction.
The holiday blues may accompany the season’s substantial anxiety and stress for some. For example, someone may need to remember to buy several gifts, organize parties, and decorate, among other things. The burden of this commitment can make you feel weary and despondent. If a client is having money problems, this predicament becomes even more stressful.
Though even with the possible causes highlighted, how should one deal with Holiday Blues? According to Healthline, these are the nine steps people can take to reduce their depressions during the “happiest time of the year”:
Though these are the ones that Healthline suggests, I want to highlight one more. This one will not only help you during the holiday season but all year round; reducing social media consumption. According to Harvard,
“Beyond sheer volume, social media interactions are qualitatively different from in-person meetings. For one thing, social media platforms have developed easy opportunities for viewers to react to content, resulting in objective feedback metrics for the content creator. Because the denominator is essentially infinite, no matter how many likes a post gets, the numerator may not feel like enough. Feeling insufficient, not liked enough, judged by others, or excluded from an “in-group” takes a heavy toll on mental health.”
So my best advice, this holiday season, put your phone down and enjoy your time with family and friends. Don’t compare your holidays to anyone else’s and as I said before, don’t be afraid to reach out to a friend.