Depression is a Serious Problem that can be Magnified During the Holidays

By: Akoma Unity Center


For most people the holidays are a time of joy, happiness and good feelings. But for many Americans the holidays only present yet another opportunity to reflect on all they feel is bringing them down. For these people, the holidays only serve to magnify feelings of loneliness and depression. But there are things a depressed person can do to help them cope with these feelings during the holidays. 


Giving helps the spirit and gives meaning and purpose to an otherwise dreary day. Being generous towards others can brighten your life. So, if you’re expecting to have a tough time this holiday season, sign yourself up to volunteer somewhere. Help out at a soup kitchen, volunteer at an animal shelter, or even just offer to help a neighbor string their Christmas lights. Any of these things will make you feel better. 


When feeling especially glum, something as simple as taking a walk can have an energizing affect. Just being outside can do wonders for your mental health. Walking at a brisker pace will force you to take deeper breaths. Deep breathing helps more oxygen get into your bloodstream, which is then carried to the brain. Having plenty of oxygen traveling to your brain can be a big help in regulating imbalances. 


Sometimes starting a new tradition, something new can help avoid memories that can sap your good mood. Because it is a new thing, there aren’t any memories attached to it and instead it presents an opportunity create new and happier memories. Your new tradition can be as big or as small, and involve as many or as little people, as you’d like.  


Depression during the holidays can become a serious problem but there are ways such as those mentioned that can help alleviate its negative effects. If you are depressed or know someone who is, remember that the best way to combat depression is to stay busy and be around people.


Here are some practical tips to help minimize those feeling of depression. If you feel lonely or isolated, seek out community, religious or other social events. They can offer support and companionship. Volunteering your time to help others also is a good way to lift your spirits and broaden your friendships. 


Sometimes feelings of depression can come about because of the loss of a loved one. These feelings can be especially strong during the holidays. Acknowledge that this holiday season won’t be the same. Use the opportunity to create new traditions aimed at keeping your loved one’s memory alive. Seek out supportive people who understand what you’re going through and spend time with them. 


It’s important to be realistic during the holiday season. The holidays don’t have to be perfect or just like last year. As families change and grow, traditions and rituals often change as well. Choose a few to hold on to and be open to creating new ones. For example, if your adult children can’t come to your house, find new ways to celebrate together, such as sharing pictures, emails or videos. 


Sometimes holiday depression is added to by the pressure and extra stress brought on by the all the holiday related activities. It’s ok to say no sometimes. Saying yes when you should say no can leave you feeling resentful and overwhelmed. Friends and colleagues will understand if you can’t participate in every project or activity. 


Depression can lead to more serious mental health issues and sometimes the holiday season can add to these feelings. Despite your best efforts, you may find yourself feeling persistently sad or anxious, plagued by physical complaints, unable to sleep, irritable and hopeless, and unable to face routine chores. If these feelings last for a while, talk to your doctor or a mental health professional. 


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