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You should be feeling great during the December holidays — isn't that “compulsory”, after all? Everywhere around you, you seem to see happy faces and ecstasy. Looks can be rather deceiving however, and despite what you think a great number of people deal with the holiday blues each year. Those people who are grateful Christmas is behind us already, and who are still dreading the new year should not feel too lonely. There are lots of others who are feeling just like you. How do you cope with depression during the holidays?
What Are The Holiday Blues?
You're feeling stressed, sad, anxious, down... and are just plain not enjoying the holidays? Or you are irritated, suffering from heart palpitations when you think about the new year, or feel the urge to get really drunk and smoke hundreds of cigarettes? You may be suffering from a bad case of the holiday blues. The holiday blues have many possible causes.
Sample examples are:
- Financial stress, because December is the most expensive month of the year for most of us, and we tend to spend (much) more than we can afford. Guilt and fear are the results.
- Pressure to create the perfect event for loved-ones, or pressure to experience the perfect event yourself.
- Loneliness — because you are (newly) single, a loved-one recently passed away, or you moved to a new town.
- Seasonal Affective Disorder, with the very appropriate abbreviation SAD, affects many people throughout the darker winter months. If you have this, you are more likely to feel extra bad during the December holidays including the new year.
- Past trauma has taken your ability to enjoy the holidays away.
- Your family situation is dysfunctional, you have no family, or one sour apple in your family is so terrible they make you depressed all by by themselves.
What are the holiday blues not?
Like its new-parent equivalent the baby blues, the holiday blues should not go on for much longer than a few weeks. The holiday blues can quite clearly be traced back to the holidays — though Seasonal Affective Disorder can certainly exacerbate your depressed feelings. If those holiday blues symptoms persist, or if they started well before the holidays, you may simply have depression.
Clinical depression can manifest itself in many ways. It lasts far longer than a few weeks, and will have physical as well as psychological symptoms. Someone suffering from depression may feel sad, hopeless, worthless, and tearful. They could also be irritated, withdrawn, or anxious. Depressed people do not get any enjoyment out of life any more, and lose interest in those things that previously enjoyed. Physical symptoms include insomnia, fatigue, and changes in appetite and libido.
Depression is, in other words, a whole different beast than the holiday blues. The holiday blues are unpleasant and should be taken seriously, but they will go away by themselves. Depression will not in most cases. Anyone suspecting they suffer from depression should see their family doctor.