Depression During the Holidays

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‘Tis the season to be jolly? Not necessarily. For many people the holiday season, which kicks off with Thanksgiving and spans through New Year’s, is anything but blissful. In fact, this time of year may trigger a bout of the blues or perhaps ignite a depression that has been smoldering under the surface for months.

“Holiday blues are a pretty common problem despite the fact that as a society, we see the holidays as a joyous time,” says Rakesh Jain, MD, director of psychiatric drug research at the R/D Clinical Research Center in Lake Jackson, Texas. “Many people feel depressed, which can be due to the increased stress that comes with the need to shop and the decreased time to exercise which gets put on the back burner during the holidays.”

While people with heart as opposed to one from Saks Fifth Avenue or an equally tony boutique. “Blow up a picture and place it in a nice frame” for example, he says.

Shaking Things Up

“If your father died and you always spent Christmas Eve with dad, rather than sit home, do something different,” Minnini says. “Start a new annual friends’ dinner or go to a house of worship,” she says. “A lot of people feel sad and lonely during the holidays because they think you should be antidepressants.

Lending Santa a Helping Hand

“Volunteer to help someone,” Borysenko says. “Deliver presents for Santa or help at a homeless shelter. This is really the top thing that people can do to turn their holiday blues around. Altruism and volunteerism make you feel better about yourself, but they also get you out of your rut, home, and isolation. This is a time of year where the spirit of helping and compassion is right there, and if you can tap into it by helping others, that’s great!”

Remembering That It Really Is ‘A Wonderful Life’

“Be grateful for what you do have and all the positive things that have happened in your life,” Orloff says. “Talk to supportive friends on the phone and find the kind of support to make you feel less lonely rather than dwelling on the loneliness.”

Jain agrees. “Thinking that the glass is half full, not half empty, is a simple but effective tool,” he says. “Instead of thinking about what you can’t buy, think about the extra time and joy that you have to share with your friends and family.”

Creating a Photo Opportunity

Many people actually love the holidays and feel let down only when the holiday season is over, Baron says. But making a plan to get together after New Year’s can help keep the holiday spirit alive longer. “Take lots of pictures over the holidays and plan a late-January get-together where everyone can share their pictures,” he suggests. “It’s something to look forward to without waiting for the spring thaw.”