While the holiday season is viewed by most as a time of happiness and celebration, it can also be an emotionally charged time that challenges coping skills. Even those who love the holidays can succumb to feeling stressed, anxious, exhausted, and overwhelmed. The holiday season can exacerbate symptoms for people who already struggle with mental health issues like anxiety and depression. The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) reports that more than 60% of individuals with preexisting mental health disorders say their conditions worsen during the holidays.
Whether you live with depression daily or have seasonal depression, the depression treatment program at Harmony Hills can help you minimize holiday stress and manage your symptoms to enjoy the season. Our intake specialists provide a thorough assessment to help determine the best course of treatment for your unique mental health needs and life circumstances. Call 855.494.0357 to learn more about how you can benefit from depression treatment this holiday season.
Understanding Seasonal Depression and the Holidays
Though millions of people have depression, it impacts everyone differently based on their genetic makeup, personality, family history, medical conditions, substance use, and life experiences. What triggers one person’s depression symptoms may not impact another’s. However, there are numerous common triggers of seasonal depression during the holidays, including the following:
- Added stress
- Fatigue and lack of sleep
- Financial stress
- Unrealistic expectations
- Isolation and loneliness
- Having to be with family
- An inability to be with family
- Excessive eating, drinking, or substance use
The commercialization of the holidays can cause people to compare their situation to others and feel “less-than” or assume everyone else is happier and better off. Unresolved family conflict can heighten stress, tension, anger, anxiety, and other complicated feelings. The holiday season also often magnifies grief over losing loved ones, especially when it is the first holiday without them.
Tips for Managing the Holidays and Depression
Managing your mental health during the holidays can feel challenging; however, it is possible with lifestyle changes and professional treatment. Maintaining a regular sleep schedule, eating a healthy diet, exercising regularly, avoiding excess substance use, and utilizing healthy coping skills are lifestyle choices that can positively impact your mental health.
Other tips for managing the holidays and depression can include the following:
- Manage your expectations and make sure they are realistic for yourself and others
- Learn to say ‘no,’ and do not take on more than you can handle
- Make a list to help prioritize your tasks and responsibilities
- Create and stick to a budget for holiday spending
- Make time for yourself and prioritize self-care
- Avoid procrastination
- Volunteer and reach out to others
- Surround yourself with positive support
- Learn to identify triggers
- Utilize relaxation techniques and healthy coping skills
Unfortunately, you may succumb to unhealthy coping mechanisms to manage your depression despite your best efforts. If your depression symptoms feel unmanageable, it is imperative to seek professional help.
Signs and Symptoms of Seasonal Depression
The holiday season affects everyone differently. While many undergo mild, temporary stress or anxiety, others experience significant depressive symptoms. Common signs and symptoms associated with seasonal depression include:
- Exhaustion and fatigue, despite sleeping more
- Difficulty making decisions or concentrating
- Avoiding commitments, isolating, or withdrawing from friends and family
- Heavier than usual reliance on alcohol, drugs, or nicotine
- Feelings of worthlessness or guilt
- Anger or irritability for no particular reason
- Loss of pleasure in things you previously enjoyed
- Feeling tense, worried, or anxious
- Significant changes in appetite, weight, and sleep habits
Often, the symptoms of seasonal depression are mild, do not interfere with daily functioning, and can be effectively managed with a combination of lifestyle choices, weekly outpatient therapy, and medication where indicated. However, some people experience more severe symptoms and require more intensive treatment, particularly when seasonal depression compounds pre-existing mental health issues.
Learn to Handle Depression During the Holidays at Harmony Hills
At Harmony Hills, we understand that, in addition to joy, the holidays can bring added stress and anxiety that contribute to depression symptoms. We believe that the best tool for managing seasonal depression is seeking support from caring professionals with the experience to help. We offer multiple levels of depression treatment to meet your specific needs. Contact our team at 855.494.0357 or via our online form to learn more about how to handle depression during the holidays and beyond.