Holidays are usually a time for celebrating with family and friends and feeling connected with those closest to you, but that’s not true for anyone. For some the holidays expose raw, hurtful feelings and memories, such as painful childhood, bad relationships, or the loss of a loved one. Feelings of depression can happen anytime of the year, but the expectation and anxiety during the holidays may cause some to experience heightened loneliness.
Acknowledging the specific areas mentioned below can help you or a loved one who is struggling with depression during the holidays.
Social isolation: Social isolation is a big predictor of depression and suicidal ideation over the holidays. People who feel disconnected, unloved, or experienced trauma struggle more with this. If they feel left out, they will often withdraw from others.
What you can do: If you begin feeling alone, reach out to a family member or one close friend and confide in them. Call a crisis hotline where they will talk with you to help you gain clarity. Talk to your pastor about your feelings or find a therapist who will help you develop a plan that will encourage networking.
Seasonal Affect Disorder (SAD): Becoming more depressed and isolated during certain seasons is something many struggle with. Heightened feelings of despair, hopelessness, and frustration can lead to you excluding yourself from sharing family celebrations and feeling accepted.
What you can do: Seek help with a mental health professional. Treatments like light therapy, anti-depressants, and cognitive behavioral therapy can help you overcome SAD.
Grieving over the holidays: The loss of loved ones, one’s health, or a relationship can feel more negative during the holidays. Feeling as though you’ll never be happy again or like life is too painful to continue are red flags of suicidal ideation and deep depression.
What you can do: Don’t give into holiday pressure; take care of you. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, tell someone and prioritize your own needs. Begin a new tradition, take a trip, or celebrate in a different way so you aren’t forced to go back into the home where you suffered the loss. Consider volunteering on Christmas day. When you serve others and see others suffering, it helps put your suffering in perspective. Lastly, get out into nature. Nature can ground you when you’re feeling overwhelmed with life. Exercising for 30 minutes helps minimize feelings of depression and loss. It’s sometimes difficult to get motivated, but it will do you a world of good.
Depression is real, and suicide is forever. If you or a family or friend is depressed, they will not be able to “snap out of it.” This is the time to show your love and concern by taking smart precautions. You need medical intervention with a mental health care provider. Talk to your doctor and express your concerns. If at any time you or someone you know is feeling suicidal over the holidays, call 911 immediately. If possible, go to the emergency room. You can find more information about suicide by going to suicidepreventionlifeline.org or calling 1-800-273-8255. Life is too precious to lose to suicide.