It is November and you’re thinking about the holidays. You might have booked a dreaded holiday ticket. Perhaps, you might be preparing yourself for a long drive alone or with people you’re not keen in a closed box moving at 65 miles per hour for hours on end.
You might be preparing for that dreaded Thanksgiving dinner question that someone is bound to ask you. You might brace yourself for that unwanted cheek squeeze from an older relative.
The holidays can be rough. Visiting family can be rough. Not visiting family can be rough.
7 Ways Depression Can Present During the Holiday Season
Feeling down, tired, and lonely can all be signs of depression. Here is a deeper dive into other ways depression can present during this holiday season. Then we will talk about what to do if you find yourself feeling depressed.
Increased Feelings of Isolation:
The holiday period often amplifies feelings of loneliness and isolation. This could be due to comparing yourself to the seemingly joyous celebrations of others, leading to increased emotional distress and a sense of disconnection.
Heightened Anxiety or Stress:
The pressure to feel happy and participate in festive activities can exacerbate anxiety and stress, contributing to the worsening of depressive symptoms. The expectations to socialize and appear cheerful may lead to increased anxiety levels.
Changes in Sleep Patterns:
Disrupted sleep patterns, such as insomnia or oversleeping, are common symptoms during the holiday season. The stress and emotional burden can affect your ability to get adequate and restful sleep, further impacting your mental health.
Increased Fatigue or Lack of Energy:
A lack of energy or increased fatigue is a prevalent symptom during the holidays. The emotional toll and increased stress often lead to feeling physically drained, making it more challenging to engage in activities.
Loss of Interest in Activities:
You may lose interest in activities you once found enjoyable. Coffee dates, working out, walking outside, etc. The pressure to participate in festivities can result in a decreased desire to do what usually makes you happy.
Mood Swings or Emotional Sensitivity:
The fluctuation of emotions and increased sensitivity during the holiday season can be significant for those dealing with depression. Emotional highs and lows may be higher or lower than normal. This makes it hard to regulate your mood and can lead to isolation.
Exacerbation of Feelings of Hopelessness or Helplessness:
The contrast between the expected festive cheer and one’s own feelings of depression can exacerbate a sense of hopelessness or helplessness. These emotions may intensify during the holidays.
10 Ways to Deal with Depression During the Holidays
Now you know how depression can operate during the holidays. Here are 10 ways you can do something about it. Bookmark this post. If you need it, you’ll want it at your fingertips. Don’t let depression linger.
Get Therapy for Depression:
Engage in therapy for depression by seeking professional help. In Washington, DC, many skilled therapists and counselors specialize in depression treatment. But we all know how hard it is to get a therapist to call you back. We offer free consultations and you can sign up for one here.
Set healthy boundaries to manage stress during the holidays. It’s okay to decline invitations or take breaks when needed. Protect your mental well-being by balancing social commitments with personal time.
Maintain a Routine:
Stick to a consistent routine as much as possible. Maintaining regular sleep patterns and daily activities can provide stability and structure, reducing the impact of depression symptoms.
Depression can sap your energy. Prioritize self-care activities that promote relaxation and well-being. Meditation, exercise, hobbies, or a warm bath can help alleviate stress and boost your mood during this season.
Focus on Realistic Expectations:
Manage your expectations by setting realistic goals for yourself. Avoid the pressure to create a “perfect” holiday experience. Embrace imperfections (traffic delays, flight delays, etc.) and understand that it’s okay not to feel joyous all the time.
Set Aside Time to Connect with Supportive Friends:
Surround yourself with understanding and supportive friends, family, or support groups. Social connections and seeking help from trusted individuals can significantly impact your mental health. Set up a phone call with a friend when you’re away just to check-in. Even 10 minutes can make a world of difference.
Engage in Physical Activities:
Exercise and physical activities are proven mood lifters. Engaging in regular physical activity can help reduce symptoms of depression and increase feelings of well-being. Go on a walk, ride a bike, and do that Turkey Trot 5K, even if you have to walk it.
Avoid Substance Abuse:
Avoid excessive alcohol or substance use. While these might provide temporary relief, they can worsen symptoms of depression and contribute to a cycle of negative emotions. Have fun and be careful. Your mind and body will thank you.
Volunteer or Help Others:
Contributing to others’ well-being by volunteering can give a sense of purpose and fulfillment. This doesn’t mean you have to doll out soup at a soup kitchen if that isn’t your thing. Help with cooking or cleaning at home. Rake leaves. Watch a younger family member. Helping others often brings a positive shift in one’s own perspective.
Plan Ahead and Prioritize Mental Health:
Plan ahead and prioritize your mental health. Have a strategy in place to manage potential stress triggers during the holiday season. Talk to your therapist about sending them an email. While we can’t do “email therapy” you can at least check in. If needed, consider scheduling extra therapy sessions to navigate this period.
Counseling Can Help with Depression During the Holidays
Use therapy even if you know you’re going to miss some sessions. This will help you stay connected to your therapist. It will help you work on skills and tools to build your capacity to cope with the difficulties of the holiday season.
Do your best to keep your therapy appointments. Reschedule them as soon as possible if you know your travel plans. Ask your therapist when they will be out of the office and see if you can get some extra sessions in to make up for what will be missed. Asked for tools and activities you can do to help cope during this time. Ask for a book to read, a podcast to listen to, or some prompts for journaling.
Check out books like:
- Daring Greatly by Brene Brown
- Feeling Good by David Burns
- I Don’t Want to Talk About it by Terrence Real
Begin Therapy for Depression in Washington, DC
This holiday season invest in yourself. Give yourself the gift of therapy. Don’t go it alone. And don’t keep working with a therapist you don’t like, who doesn’t call you back, who is hard to schedule with, and who does have a team to support you.
We will guide you through the process of starting therapy for depression during the holidays. We offer consultations for anyone interested in our services or who wants to know more. You can book your consultation on our website, by texting us at 202-998-ADHD (2343), or by emailing [email protected].
We offer free consultations because we want to answer your questions before we begin therapy for anxiety. We are your resource to make it easier, even if you don’t work with us.
Other Services Offered by DCNE
In addition to therapy for depression, we offer Cognitive and Behavioral Techniques, neurofeedback, and Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) to treat depression and anxiety, we offer therapy for depression, ADHD therapy, and mental health assessments.
We aren’t just an “uh huh, tell me more” kind of therapy practice. At DCNE, we get in there with you and provide tangible results through assessments and behavioral counseling.