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Christmas and Depression – An Ultimate Guide to Deal With It

Christmas and Depression

Christmas and Depression image - (Image Credit: Shutterstock)

Story At-A-Glance
  • Christmas can be triggering for people experiencing grief or who are prone to stress or depression.
  • Stress and anxiety can lead to higher levels of cortisol in people during the holiday season. This can lead to post-Christmas depression once the holidays are over as the cortisol leaves the body, but dopamine and serotonin are still low.
  • Knowing how to deal with Christmas stress through mindfulness and meditation is one of the best ways to cope during the holidays.
  • Other tips for how to deal with Christmas stress include reaching out to your support group, setting boundaries for yourself, and making sure you're not over-committing.
  • Lastly, make sure to follow the tips to prevent post-Christmas depression.

It’s the most wonderful time of the year, right?

Well, some might argue otherwise. While Christmas is touted as a beautiful holiday filled with joy and happiness, many people experience Christmas anxiety and depression. This is due to a variety of reasons, but no matter what the reason is, it can be very challenging to combat.

Depression that comes around during this time of year is often due to holiday anxiety. While Christmas is supposed to be a fun time of year, there’s no shortage of responsibilities that the holidays entail.

Learning how to deal with Christmas stress is difficult, but worth it. If you find yourself frequently stressed out and depressed during the holiday season, here are some reasons why that may be and some ways you can help yourself.

Stress, Depression, and Holidays

Why do we get more depressed during the holidays? Well, the answer to the question of Christmas and depression is a little complicated.

While the holidays are, supposedly, a time of joy, many people find them a difficult time of year. The holidays provide people with opportunities to see friends and family, but sometimes that’s not necessarily a good thing.

For people with tension in their families or those who have experienced the loss of a friend or family, the holidays might be filled with dread. Holiday anxiety can be caused by the stress of seeing family you don’t get along with or by coping with the loss of someone important to you.

But those aren’t the only things that might cause Christmas anxiety. If you struggle with addictions, alcohol being a big component of the holidays can bring out a lot of stress. 

Some people, in general, are more prone to stress than others. Combine that with the fact that Christmas involves a lot of planning, preparation, and often many different events to go to, and it’s not surprising that this time of year can trigger a lot of stress – these are factors that lead to Christmas anxiety.

The thing to understand about stress, as well, is that there is a connection between stress and depression. While a little stress is normal and even healthy, too much stress can lead to decreased levels of hormones like serotonin and dopamine, which can, in turn, result in depression.

So, it makes sense that the buildup of stress during the holidays can lead up to depression, especially once the holidays are finished. As soon as the stress is over and the cortisol starts leaving your body, you might start experiencing a post-Christmas depression now that your body isn’t on high alert.

So how can you learn to deal with Christmas anxiety? Here are a few ways to manage your mental health this holiday season.

Christmas Anxiety

When You’re Feeling Depressed During The Christmas Season

The holidays and stress can be a leading factor when it comes to Christmas and depression during this season. But for those who struggle with depression throughout the year, Christmas can exacerbate those symptoms.

So why is that? And what can you do about it?

Well, one of the reasons why people think some get depressed during the holidays has to do with the weather. As winter arrives, the sun comes up later, goes back down sooner, and the cold weather might encourage us to stay indoors.

This leads to a condition known as seasonal affective disorder or SAD. In essence, it means depression that is triggered by the changing of seasons.

Depression can also be caused, as we’ve covered, by stress and anxiety, or by major changes in your life. 

Most of these things are inevitable, so finding ways to manage depression might seem impossible too. But while yes, eliminating these triggers is likely impossible, there are ways to deal with them, especially holiday anxiety.

It can be hard to know how to deal with Christmas stress. One of the best ways to manage your depression is by talking to someone you trust.

When it comes to depression at any time of year, having a good support system you can rely on is paramount. Reach out to someone you trust and care about and talk to them about how you’re feeling.

You should also make sure to keep up commitments. When we get depressed, a lot of the time, the immediate reaction is to withdraw from others.

It can seem painful to be around other people, especially when they seem so happy while we seem so sad. But even still, it’s important to be around others. And being around other people will likely lessen your Christmas anxiety symptoms.

Christmas Commitment

Benefits of Staying Stress-Free

Christmas anxiety is very real and hard to face. You might be struggling to find ways to cope with all of this stress.

The thing to remember, however, is that it’s impossible to eliminate stress. Stress is a normal part of life, and having a little bit of stress is beneficial for you. That said, if you’re experiencing too much stress in your life, which is leading to mental health problems like Christmas anxiety and depression, there are plenty of ways you can manage stress. Here are a few tips on how to manage holiday stress.

Because the holidays are so busy, one great way to manage your stress is by setting boundaries for yourself. Making sure you keep up your commitments and go out to see people during the holidays is vital. But over-committing yourself can be detrimental.

You need to understand your boundaries and decide for yourself how many commitments are too many commitments, which helps prevent holiday anxiety.

Don’t be afraid to say no to certain invitations. It’s one of the ways on how to deal with Christmas stress. And try to spread out your obligations as much as possible, so you don’t have to do everything all at once. This will help you reduce stress, and allow you to see people while keeping your obligations manageable.

Christmas and depression are two different things but might cause unwanted feelings that lead to stress. Another, more general way to help manage your stress is by practicing mindfulness.

Mindfulness is, in short, the act of making an effort to be aware of the present moment instead of ruminating on what-ifs. Try some breathing exercises to stay calm and be aware of your body during moments of stress.

The Risk Factors For Holiday Depression, Anxiety, And Stress

Holiday anxiety, stress, and depression are probably a lot more common than you think. A Healthline study shows that around 62% of study participants find Christmas at least a little bit stressful. 

There are a few things that might make you more at risk for Christmas anxiety. If you struggle with anxiety and depression in general, you might find that this time of year makes your symptoms worse, and you also cope with holiday stress.

If you have experienced any major changes recently, especially if they have to do with grief or loss, then you will be more likely to find Christmas anxiety more difficult to deal with.

Stressful

Manifestations of Holiday Depression, Anxiety, And Stress

The signs of holiday anxiety, depression, and stress are essentially the same as at other times of the year. People struggling with depression and anxiety might find themselves with feelings of guilt, hopelessness, fatigue, and irritability. 

The difference between Christmas anxiety and anxiety and depression the symptoms are specifically triggered by the holidays.

Frequently Asked Questions

The answer to this question is broad. Many things can cause holiday blues, and what triggers sadness in one person might leave another completely fine.

Everyone is different and copes with challenges in different ways. Often, stress piling up due to the holidays can lead to post-Christmas depression. Some people experience the holiday blues because of seasonal affective disorder.

Whatever the reason, know that you're not alone in the way you're feeling, and understand that there are ways to manage your symptoms, and also how to deal with Christmas stress.

Christmas and depression can be confusing. Christmas is supposed to be a time of joy and happiness, so it can be frustrating if all you feel is anxious and depressed.

People who struggle with depression during the holidays often end up in internal battles with themselves. They feel guilty or even angry with themselves because they know they're supposed to be happy, but simply can't get there.

This is why Christmas can be particularly challenging for people handling depression or anxiety. Christmas anxiety can feel even worse than depression or anxiety at other times of the year because we know the holidays are supposed to be uplifting.

If you've lost someone recently or experienced a major change, that might trigger feelings of depression during the holidays as you cope with this new way of life.

The holidays are also an incredibly stressful time of year. From buying gifts, to planning and hosting events, a lot of stress can build up in our brains. And once Christmas is finished and our major obligations are over, we might experience post-Christmas depression as the cortisol diminishes.

There are, of course, many other reasons why people experience depression during the holidays. No matter what the reason is, understand that the way you're feeling is okay.

To manage holiday stress and prevent Christmas anxiety and depression, it's important to understand your boundaries. Make sure to see family and friends you care about but don't be afraid to say no to events you know will be triggering, or if you're starting to feel overwhelmed.

If you start experiencing holiday anxiety, reach out to someone you trust. Just talking about how you feel can often help deal with depression and anxiety.

If you've lost someone close to you recently, the holidays can be very difficult and confusing. While it might seem like the world around you is joyful and celebrating, you might be reeling from your loss.

If you're coping with grief this holiday season, be patient with yourself. Give yourself permission to mourn and reach out to your support group for help. And don't forget to set up a support system for your post-Christmas depression.

Manage Holiday Stress

Final Advice

Even though Christmas is supposed to be a joyous time of year, there’s no denying that for many people it can be extremely stressful. Christmas and depression can be a challenge.

During this time, it’s important not to blame yourself or feel guilty for struggling while everyone else celebrates. Be patient, accept your feelings, and set your boundaries.

Remember to practice mindfulness and reach out to your support group if you find yourself struggling this holiday season.

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