The stores have decorations out, people are already starting their countdowns and cannot wait until Halloween is over so that it is officially “okay” to start decorating, talking about and preparing for Thanksgiving and Christmas. It seems like every year they start earlier and earlier. Anticipation is rising and all of the pumpkin latte, snow flurry and sweater season loving people will be practically skipping through the streets with joy in the days to come. One of the most popular songs as it relates to the Christmas holiday is, “The Most Wonderful Time of the Year” (Andy Williams) but for many, this time of year is anything but.
How is it that this wonderful time filled with magic, joy, possibilities, charity and love for so many, provides heartache, loneliness, sorrow and pain for so many others? I’ve read a few articles on this and the reasons range from cold and dark weather, to intensified mental illness, to sadness over not having enough money to buy gifts for the supremely commercialized Christmas holiday. According to Healthline.com the reasons for holiday depression include:
- Social Isolation: “Some people may have a small social circle or a lack of opportunities for socialization.”
- Grieving During the Holidays: “Some people may be keenly aware of the loss of a loved one during the holiday season.”
- Major Depressive Disorder with Seasonal Pattern: “Is a type of recurring depression that is caused by the seasons changing. Many people with this disorder develop depressions symptoms during the fall, and continue to feel sad throughout the winter.”
Wherever you may find yourself, these feelings are not in your imagination, they are very real. I know that grieving the loss of a loved one through this holiday season will be very difficult for a lot of people I know. Also being single and feeling alone, wishing you had your own little family to celebrate with, can lead to depression as well. In the past that was a huge factor for holiday blues for me along with drawing near to the end of another year and feeling as if I hadn’t accomplished all I wanted to. You may not be someone who suffers in any of these ways, but do your best this year to be mindful of those that do.
My intentions are certainly not to be a “Debbie-downer” but rather to shine a light on those that may be dreading and suffering through this time of the year instead of greeting it with warm excitement. There is definitely hope! First of all, in the eternal love of Jesus Christ, and second of all, there are practical things you can do if you find yourself struggling this holiday season.
- “If the depression is serious, seek out the help of a qualified mental health professional.”
- “Set personal boundaries regarding the money spent on gifts and the number of social events.”
- “Don’t accept any “perfect” representation of Christmas that the media, institutions or other people try to make you believe.”
- “Become involved in giving in a non-monetary way through charities and worthwhile causes that help less fortunate people.”
- “Avoid excessive rumination about your life.”
- “Be grateful for what you have in your life, rather than focusing on what you don’t have.”
I would like to add my two cents and say if you are feeling this way, don’t hold it in, talk to someone you know and trust! There are people in your life who care about you and would not want you to suffer alone in this way. You’ve already made it through the tragedy, the bad times, the disappointments, which is concrete proof that you can make it through this time of the year as well!
Kerr, Michael. Holiday Depression. Healthline.com, 2005. Web. 26 Oct. 2016.
Williams, Ray. Why People Get Depressed at Christmas. PsychologyToday.com, 2010. Web. 26 Oct. 2016.
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