The holiday season, a time of joy and festivity for some, can ironically cast a shadow of depression for others. As the days get shorter and the seasonal pressure mounts, feelings of sadness, loneliness, and anxiety can intensify. Managing depression during this time requires understanding, compassion, and effective strategies.
At Mariposa Center, a cornerstone of mental health support in Orange County, we are committed to providing compassionate and effective strategies for managing depression, especially when the holidays cast their long, often unseen shadows.
Recognizing that the ‘most wonderful time of the year’ can feel quite the opposite for some, Mariposa Center stands as a beacon of hope and support for those in need.
How Many People Experience Holiday Depression?
According to a survey on holiday depression by the National Association of Mental Illness (NAMI), “64% of people say they’re affected, and 24% of people say the holidays affect them a lot.” The fact that nearly two-thirds of respondents report being affected, with almost a quarter experiencing a substantial impact, highlights the importance of acknowledging and addressing this issue.
The reasons behind the spike in holiday depression are varied and complex. Factors such as financial pressures, unrealistic expectations, family conflicts, and the loss of loved ones can contribute significantly to feelings of sadness and anxiety during this time. Additionally, the shorter days and longer nights of winter can exacerbate feelings of depression due to decreased sunlight, leading to what is commonly known as Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD).
Symptoms of Depression
Recognizing the symptoms of depression, especially during the holiday season, is crucial for seeking timely help and support. Depression can manifest in various ways, and its signs can be both emotional and physical. Here are some common symptoms to be aware of:
- Persistent Sadness or Low Mood
- Irritability or Restlessness
- Difficulty Concentrating
- Loss of Interest or Pleasure
- Changes in Appetite or Weight
- Sleep-Related Issues
- Fatigue or Loss of Energy
It’s important to note that experiencing a few of these symptoms occasionally may not necessarily indicate depression. However, if you are experiencing several of these symptoms most of the day, nearly every day for two weeks or more, we suggest seeking professional help.
Strategies for Managing Depression
Managing depression during the holidays involves both self-care and seeking support. Here are some strategies that we provide the community with:
- Prioritize Self-Care: Amidst the hustle and bustle, take time for yourself. This might mean setting aside moments for relaxation, practicing mindfulness, or engaging in activities that bring you joy.
- Set Realistic Expectations: Remember, it’s okay not to have a “perfect” holiday. Adjusting your expectations can alleviate a lot of the seasonal pressure.
- Reach Out for Support: Connect with friends, family, or support groups. Sharing your feelings can be incredibly therapeutic.
- Stay Physically Active: Exercise can be a powerful tool in combating depression. A brisk walk outdoors can do wonders for your mood.
- Get Professional Help: The best advice we can offer to manage depression, especially long term, is to seek out the help of a professional who may utilize a combination of treatment methods, like medication, traditional therapy, or other new therapy models (such as Online Therapy or Equine Therapy).
The Role of Professional Help
Sometimes, the support of a therapist can be invaluable in managing depression. Therapy offers a space to explore your feelings, develop coping mechanisms, and address the root causes of your depression.
At Mariposa Center, we offer individual therapy services tailored to help you manage your symptoms of depression, especially during challenging times like the holidays.
“The holiday season, while bright and cheerful on the surface, can often amplify feelings of depression. It’s important to recognize these feelings and seek the appropriate support, whether through therapy, self-care, or community resources.”
– Dr Krista Driver, LMFT, President & CEO, Mariposa Center
Getting Treatment for Depression in Orange County, CA
Managing depression during the holiday season is not just about enduring it but finding ways to experience joy and peace amid challenges. If you or a loved one is struggling, remember that help is available, and recovery is possible.
As we shine a light on these seasonal shadows, let’s embrace compassion for ourselves and others. For more information on managing depression or to get started with therapy at Mariposa Center, contact us today.