It is fairly common to hear about people experiencing depression this time of year while everyone around them is enjoying the holiday festivities.
While depression can come any time of the year, many studies show that stress and anxiety in November and December can be far greater for some people. There are several reasons for this so-called “holiday stress.”
One common reason for this seasonal stress is social isolation. Many people have a relatively small social circle or none at all. And people who feel disconnected from others will avoid social interaction more this time of year. That withdrawal makes any holiday depression that much worse.
Another factor may be the loss of loved ones. While your loved ones may have passed away in the middle of the summer, it is this time of year, when families gather together, that the loss can be felt more intensely.
Yet another cause for depression this time of year has to do with seasonal changes. There are numerous studies that show lack of daylight is a common form of depression. With daylight hours at their shortest during these months, that seasonal depression can be most acute.
While there’s little that can be done about the hours of darkness, some of the other causes of seasonal or holiday depression can be counteracted but it’s not always easy.
If you can, try to take a vacation this time of the year instead of during the traditional summer months. If you can’t get a full vacation, even a brief outing of a day or two or several shorter outings during the month can be helpful. One of the nice things about living in Florida is that with some planning, you can find some very nice days for a trip to the beach or a park.
While we do not suggest isolation, there are times it may be better for you to excuse yourself from a big social function or event if attending is going to make you more miserable. But if you do choose to skip the big party, try to find an alternative to simply sitting at home alone instead.
If you have time, try volunteering. You can feed the hungry, participate in a gift drive, and even help a neighbor with a project.
For some people, shopping is their method to beat the holiday blues. If you use that option, be sure to prepare a budget first and stick to it.
There are plenty of other ways to avoid seasonal or holiday depression. And for some people, despite their best efforts, they may find themselves feeling persistently sad or anxious, plagued by physical complaints, unable to sleep, irritable and hopeless. That’s when it may be time to get help from a professional. At The ITM Group we regularly see people who may need to talk to someone with experience in order to climb out of that depression. The important thing is to take that first step to ask for help.