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How To Spot Depression During The Holidays

Dr. Laura Tanzini

Holiday Depression: Causes, Signs, and Coping Tips

The holiday season can bring a variety of emotions. Unfortunately, for some, they may feel persistent sadness, emptiness, and hopelessness. In other words, the holidays may trigger depression, which often worsens due to various factors. 

Understanding the causes and signs of depression can help you recognize it in yourself or a loved one. If you’re concerned with the mental health of your wife, girlfriend, or sister, it’s helpful to understand ways to support them during the holidays. 

This article will provide an overview of holiday depression, including its causes, symptoms, and coping tips.

Read on!

Seasonal Affective Disorder vs. Holiday Depression

Distinguishing between Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) and holiday depression can be difficult, as both can occur during the holiday and share similar symptoms. 

Holiday depression is a situational type of despair that generally results from emotional pressure, sorrowfulness, and unrealistic expectations during this season.

Seasonal affective disorder, a type of clinical depression, has nothing to do with somebody’s past experiences or anxiety. Instead, its causes are biological and can lead to drastically more intense symptoms that disrupt day-to-day operations. 

Even though holiday depression may be disheartening, they typically don’t interfere with one’s routine activities, unlike SAD.

Causes of Holiday Depression

Although the holidays, for most, are typically associated with joy, they can also be difficult for others, particularly women suffering from depression. 

This is because the holiday season can include multiple stressors that may trigger depressive episodes, such as the following:

  • Financial Strain: The cost of holiday shopping and travel can cause financial strain for many people. This can cause stress and anxiety, which may worsen the symptoms of depression.
  • Grief: For those who have recently lost a loved one, the holidays can be difficult as they are reminded of the person’s absence. As a result, the holidays can lead to sadness and isolation.
  • Social Pressures: During the holidays, it is common to be surrounded by family and friends. Women with depression, however, can feel socially anxious or guilty due to the inability to “live up” to the expectations of others.
  • Family Conflicts: Along with the joy of family reunions, conflicting personalities and unresolved issues can also arise. Any conflict can be challenging to deal with and can undoubtedly worsen symptoms of depression.

Signs of Holiday Depression

The signs of holiday depression are similar to chronic depression, but the holidays may cause the former to be more severe or frequent. Some common of these signs include:

  • Unhealthy Coping Mechanisms: When people are struggling with depression during the holidays, they may rely on unhealthy coping mechanisms, such as excessive drinking or overeating.
  • Physical Symptoms: Women dealing with depression may experience physical symptoms, such as extreme tiredness, difficulty sleeping, muscle pain, and headaches.
  • Changes in Appetite: Holiday depression can lead to drastic changes in appetite, both overeating and not eating enough.
  • Social Withdrawal: Women with holiday depression may tend to withdraw from social activities, choosing instead to stay isolated in their homes.

Coping Tips for Holiday Depression

Combatting holiday depression can be challenging, but several strategies may help make the season more enjoyable for you or someone you care about. 

One important tip is to tell someone you’re depressed. Sharing your feelings with a trusted friend or family can provide emotional support and help lighten the burden. Even if these tactics don’t completely remove your feelings of sadness or anxiety, they will certainly assist in alleviating them and creating an atmosphere of positivity.

Set Realistic Expectations

This holiday season, aim to set achievable expectations for yourself. 

For example, if you can’t meet up with your beloved family members due to distance or illness, why not try something different? You could plan a virtual event and teach everyone how to craft a traditional recipe! 

Furthermore, decide on an inexpensive budget and stick to it. After all, money cannot buy you cheerfulness.

Maintain Healthy Habits

Although the holidays are a time for indulgence and savoring delectable treats, it is essential to maintain healthy habits during this season of sweets.

Here are some healthy habits that you need to stick with during the holidays:

  • Get enough sleep and rest.
  • Stay active with a moderate exercise routine.
  • Eat nutritious meals at regular intervals.
  • Avoid caffeine, alcohol, and nicotine.
  • Make sure to take time out for yourself.

Talk With a Therapist

If you are struggling with depression during the holidays, it is a good idea to seek help from a mental health professional. A therapist can provide insight into your holiday depression and advise how best to cope. They may also suggest medications or other forms of treatment if needed.

Kinder in the Keys is here to help you through this difficult time. In addition, our friendly and experienced counselors are available to provide you with the support, understanding, and guidance you need. 

Together, we can work towards helping you find ways to cope with your emotions during the holidays and manage depression more positively.

Supporting Someone with Holiday Depression

If somoene you care about seems to be going through a difficult time during the holidays, you must acknowledge their feelings and struggles rather than telling them to grin and ignore the depression. Don’t attempt to brush away what is happening with cliches like “It’s the holidays after all” or “Aren’t you glad we can all just get along?”

To ensure meaningful conversations with your significant other or female relatives, make sure to follow these tips:

  • Offer a listening ear: Listen without judgment and demonstrate that you understand the situation.
  • Encourage healthy habits: Suggest activities such as exercising, meditating, or even simply going for a leisurely walk around the block.
  • Set realistic expectations for gatherings: Understand that it can be difficult to commit to social events when depression strikes, so make sure not to pressure someone into attending an event or family gathering.
  • Remind them of their worth: Make sure your significant other or female relative knows how much they are loved and appreciated.

To ensure your loved one gets the help they need, you can encourage them to seek treatment. If they are uncertain of what steps to take next, why not explore options together? But first, ask if they would be open to getting a therapist referral with your assistance.

If you’re looking for a woman-only depression treatment center with specialized services to help those seeking recovery and resilience, look no further than Kinder in the Keys!

Kinder in the Keys is a residential depression treatment center dedicated to helping women regain their feet and thrive. Our various services ––including individual therapy sessions, group therapy meetings, holistic activities, and more –– are designed to help women of all ages tackle any form of depression!

Don’t Let Depression Ruin Your Holidays! 

Although holiday depression usually dissipates when the season ends, it can be difficult for many people. According to a study from the American Psychological Association, almost half of women and one-third of men acknowledged heightened stress during this festive period, which is a reminder that you or someone you know aren’t alone in this struggle.

So, if you or any of your female loved ones are feeling overwhelmed or struggling with holiday depression, reach out to Kinder in the Keys today for an appointment. 

At Kinder in the Keys, we care about your mental health, and we want to provide you with the necessary support and tools so that you can enjoy this holiday season!


Author Bio

Dr. Laura Tanzini, DrPh, MA, MFT

Dr. Laura Tanzini is a highly educated and accomplished professional with a background in biology and psychology. She received a BS in Biology from UC Riverside, an MA in psychology from Phillips Graduate Institute, and a Doctorate in Public Health with a specialty in Lifestyle Medicine from Loma Linda University.

Dr. Laura Tanzini is a Board Certified Professional Counselor, Integrative Medicine Clinician, and PTSD Clinician. She has worked in multiple medical hospitals, mental health institutions, and inpatient eating disorder clinics. Also, Dr. Tanzini has written scholarly papers and spoken on various topics related to nutrition, stress, menopause, obesity, depression, anxiety, and human development.