Depression and Holidays
Remember - you are not a loser for scaling back. Other people would probably love to do it too, but there's major peer pressure to "enjoy" holidays to their fullest.
The holiday season for most people is a fun time of the year filled with parties, celebrations and social gatherings with family and friends. For many people, it is a time filled with sadness, self-evaluation, loneliness, and anxiety about an uncertain future.
Most of us, at some time in our lives, have felt depressed around the holidays. It happens when our grand holiday expectations collide with the reality of squabbling in-laws, sullen teenagers, disappointing gifts, and over-limit credit cards. It happens as soon as we hear the sound of relatives resuming their old familiar, dysfunctional roles in the family.
Even in an un-depressed state, the holidays are stressful and often disappointing.
As the holidays approach each year, more and more people suffer from Holiday Depression. Some experts blame it on factors relating to nutrition. Nutritional experts believe that depression is caused by the excessive sugar and fatty foods coursing through our bodies.
Seniors are more susceptible to holiday depression:
Seniors can have an especially hard time with the holidays. Lots of reasons can contribute to this. The loss of an important person in the last year, or the anniversary of a loss or traumatic event can make memories come back that can dampen spirits.
Nearly two-thirds of survey respondents said they have suffered from depression during the holidays, often to such an extent that they do not take part in the season's activities. Depression and suicides generally occur at a higher ratio during the holidays than at any other time of the year.
Womens and holiday depression:
"The survey shows that there are many women who unnecessarily suffer from depression during the holidays," says Amy Niles, president of the NWHRC. "The good news is that careful planning, regular exercise, support from loved ones and treatment by a health-care professional can help individuals overcome depression and enjoy the holidays."
The women reported not attending parties, decorating, shopping or giving presents due to their depression. They also reported drinking too much and said stress and anxiety - not family, gifts or holiday cheer -- were the first terms that came to mind when thinking about the holiday season.
However, more than half the women surveyed agreed that there are ways to help prevent the onset of depression. These included the setting of realistic expectations, exercising, establishing a budget and volunteering to help others in need.
Causes of holiday depression:
Sadness is a truly personal feeling. What makes one person feel sad may not affect another person. Typical sources of holiday sadness include: stress, fatigue, unrealistic expectations, over-commercialization, financial stress, and the inability to be with one's family and friends. Balancing the demands of shopping, parties, family obligations, and house guests may contribute to feelings of being overwhelmed and increased tension. People who do not view themselves as depressed may develop stress responses, such as: headaches, excessive drinking, over-eating, and difficulty sleeping. Others may experience post-holiday sadness after New Year's/January 1st. This can result from built-up expectations, disappointments from the previous year, coupled with stress and fatigue.
Action Strategies: Holidays and Depression
I have some suggestions for the depressive's holiday, drawn from my experience. By the way, these are also good for the non-depressive who's totally stressed out and at the end of his/her rope.
First and foremost, if you suffer from lonliness or holiday depression, do not be alone for the holidays! Even if it means volunteering your time to help the needy at a food line or soup kitchen, do not be alone. There are many valuable programs to become involved with well before the holidays, and such involvement on your part will lessen your feelings of lonliness, of low self-esteem and low self-worth.
A second option might be attending holiday celebrations, such as candlelight church services that serve to warm the heart, or gala musical concertos that fill our spirits with the beauty and fulfillment of song. This also helps those depressed to feel less sorry and encourages a light heart when those in the depressed person's environment are happy and involved in the church or musical service.
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