Christmas time is here! The lights are up, the tree is shining bright, and the festive retail world is in full force. The time for cheer has begun, but for some of us, the holiday season can bring about the Christmas blues. Although most people enjoy this time of year, there are some who experience a lot of stress and anxiety that accompanies this time of the season.
Mansbacher, A Dr. of Psychology, (2012) states that increased stress, anxiety, and depressive symptoms begin to elevate during this time of year and continue into the beginning of the new year.
Holiday depression, or what some research studies have called winter depression, can be caused by the following:
- Financial stress – The pressure of spending more and buying gifts for everyone especially if there have been demotions or change of jobs that impacts income.
- Relationships – There may be more focus or expectations for couples or partners in relationships to express or demonstrate affection or create more memories together to make the holidays season feel memorable or significant.
- Grief and Loss – This time of year brings about memories, and anniversaries of lost friends or loved ones and can trigger feelings of grief, loss, anger, or guilt.
- Comparing & Competing – Many are often wanting more from us or making us feel pressured to keep up with appearances. This can give a false sense of self-worth or temporary satisfaction.
- Changes in Daylight and Sunlight – Previous research indicates that dramatic changes in latitude and time of year could contribute to symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder and increase the onset of depressive symptoms this time of year (Low & Feissner, 1998).
Being aware of the psychological and emotional effects that this time of year can have on you will help you to feel better prepared for what you may experience. Understanding what impacts and triggers your feelings of stress or how you experience your depression will help prepare you for ways to cope. Taking time to assess and talk about how you encounter these emotional stressors with a trusted friend, loved one, or mental health counselor will help create the support you need when those Christmas blues hit.