The holiday season for many people is a fun time of the year filled with parties, celebrations, and social gatherings with family and friends. But for others, it is a time filled with sadness, self-reflection, loneliness, and anxiety.
Depression may occur at any time of the year, but the stress and anxiety during the months of November and December may cause even those who are usually content to experience loneliness and a lack of fulfillment.
Why Is Depression So Common During the Holidays?
Social isolation is one of the biggest predictors of depression, especially during the holidays.
Some people may have a small social circle or a lack opportunities for socialization. People who have feelings of disconnectedness often avoid social interactions at holiday time. Unfortunately, withdrawing often makes the feelings of loneliness and symptoms of depression worse.
These individuals may see other people spending time with friends and family, and ask themselves, “Why can’t that be me?” or “Why is everyone else so much happier than I am?”
Sadness is a truly personal feeling. What makes one person feel sad may not affect another person. Holiday sadness can also come from things like:
Grieving the loss of a loved one
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:
Here are some ways to help beat the holiday blues and stress:
Don’t Give In to Holiday Pressures
Feel free to leave an event if you aren’t comfortable. Be willing to tell others, “I’m not up for this right now.”
Helping others can also be very helpful for you, too.
Get Back to Nature
Going for a walk in the park or the woods helps many people relax and feel better when they are feeling overwhelmed.
Make realistic expectations & goals. Do not take on more responsibilities than you can handle.
Be realistic about what you can and cannot do, this includes spending.
Limit your drinking, since excessive drinking will only increase your feelings of depression.
Make time for yourself!
Let others share the responsibilities of holiday tasks.
Keep track of your holiday spending. Overspending can lead to depression when the bills arrive after the holidays are over. Extra bills with little budget to pay them can lead to further stress and depression.
Lastly, don't set yourself up for disappointment and sadness by comparing today with the good old days of the past.
Be kind to each other, and to yourselves. If you or someone you know needs help, or shows signs of Depression, reach out. There are many resources available that offer assistance.
Numbers that you can call for help:
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 800-273-8255 (TALK)
The National Suicide Prevention Hotline offers free and confidential support to those in immediate emotional distress. The hotline provides suicide prevention resources as well as access to local crisis centers.
You don’t have to be actively thinking about suicide to use this service — anyone in emotional distress can call and use their services.
Lifeline Chat is an online chat that provides a direct connection to counselors for support.
For hearing impaired services, call 800-273-8255 or use the chat services.
SAMHSA: 800-662-4357 (HELP)
The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) highlights behavioral health impacts, like substance use and mental health conditions, in communities across the country. SAMHSA provides a confidential connection to substance use treatment facilities and behavioral health treatment service locators to make access to support easier.
You can also visit the online treatment locator to find treatment near you.
SAMHSA also offers hearing impaired services at 800-487-4889.
Samaritans: 877-870-4673 (HOPE) (call or text)
Samaritans offers immediate emotional support for those in distress. If you’re thinking about suicide or have lost someone to suicide, the volunteers at Samaritans can help.
They also offer an online chat service through Lifeline Chat.
Crisis Text Line: Text “HOME” to 741741
The Crisis Text Line offers help for any crisis. A counselor receives your text and responds immediately from a privately secure platform.
If you live in the United Kingdom, text 85258. In Ireland, you can text 50808.
Friendship Line: 800-971-0016
As the only hotline targeted toward people 60 years old and older and adults with disabilities, the Institute on Aging’s Friendship Line offers emotional support and suicide intervention.
The Friendship Line is also there to simply listen.
Trained volunteers help older adults experiencing depression symptoms and loneliness and offer grief support.
If you live in the California area, Friendship Line can even respond to abuse reports of older people and provide well-being checks.
Veterans Crisis Line: 800-273-8255 (press 1) or Text 838255
Trained professionals from the Department of Veterans Affairs provide free and confidential support services to veterans in crisis. Support is available to all veterans, service members, and National Guard and Reserve.
Friends and family of veterans are also able to get emotional support and resources through the hotline’s crisis responders.
A crisis chat is also available day or night.
Online hotlines provide quick and easy, around-the-clock access to mental health professionals and trained volunteers ready to engage, support, and guide individuals in crisis.
Some of the most helpful include:
Lifeline Crisis Chat
Because of their unique needs and situations, youths experiencing depression and distress often require specialized support and care to resolve crises.
Mental health counselors and volunteers provide not only crisis support but also offer abuse and self-harm resources. For a youth-specific hotline, try one of the following:
National Youth Crisis Hotline
Boys and Girls Town National Hotline
Child Help USA Hotline
Trevor Project Lifeline