Celebrating is the last thing some people feel like doing during the holiday season.
“The holidays can be an especially difficult time for people who are depressed or grieving,” Dr. Jeffrey Borenstein, president and CEO of the Brain & Behavior Research Foundation, said in a foundation news release.
“People who are sad or lonely often feel out of sync when everyone else seems to be celebrating, and the holidays can exacerbate these feelings,” he explained.
If you are depressed, don’t try to deal with it on your own. If you are not in treatment, seek help. If you are already receiving treatment, it’s especially important to continue during the holidays, he said.
“The holidays are challenging for many people, but symptoms of depression are a sign to seek professional help. The most important take-home message is that depression is treatable and people should not suffer in silence; they should seek help,” Borenstein said.
People who are depressed tend to isolate themselves. Instead, they should try to go to a party or family gathering even if they’re not in the mood, he suggested.
Don’t have unrealistic expectations about the holidays, because that can lead to disappointment, Borenstein said. Holidays can also bring up long-standing family issues. Try to set them aside, he suggested. Instead, try to focus on things that make you happy and be thankful for the good relationships you have.
It’s also important to get regular exercise, which can help improve your mood.
Some people who feel sad during the holidays turn to alcohol, but that’s a mistake. Alcohol is a depressant and can increase depression, anxiety and stress.
Another potential problem at this time of year is seasonal affective disorder (SAD), a form of depression triggered by the lack of sunlight in winter. Treatments for SAD include light therapy, counseling and medications.
The National Alliance on Mental Illness has more about dealing with the holiday blues.