The holiday season isn’t merry and bright for everyone. From financial woes and unwanted guests to grief, loneliness, and hectic schedules, the holidays have a way of triggering depression and anxiety symptoms in millions of individuals across the country.
Contrary to popular belief, suicide rates are generally lower than average in November, December and January. However, individuals suffering from major or clinical depression are not surprisingly at a higher risk for both suicide attempts and substance abuse, with the holidays acting as something of a ‘tipping point.’
So how do we deal with depression and anxiety at Christmas and over the holidays? How do we address the symptoms of depression before they evolve into a full depressive episode?
FIGHTING DEPRESSION DURING THE HOLIDAYS
Plan for Self Care, Sleep & Exercise
Oftentimes our hectic schedules – the baking, the shopping, the entertaining, the social outings – prevent us from making time for ourselves during the holiday months. Writing, reading, napping, exercise, a quick hike, a salon or spa treatment – write these things into your schedule to ensure you take proper care of yourself in the midst of everything else. Remember that 30-minutes of exercise can be as beneficial as taking an antidepressant, and – if you can exercise outside – you’ll get the added benefit of light therapy!
Avoid Conflict & Drama
Family gatherings can be stressful, especially when you can foresee the conflicts that are sure to arise. Prepare a neutral response – try, ‘Let’s talk about this some other time’ – and excuse yourself from the conversation.
Do Your Best, But Forget About Perfection
Focus on the few, simple things that you can do to truly evoke happiness in your family – and forget the rest. Martha Stewart-esque decorations, made-from-scratch holiday pies, finding the perfect gift for everyone on your list – your mental health is more important than all of these things. If you find you can’t stop obsessing over these trivial details, shift focus and help a needy family in your area. Helping the less fortunate can put your own problems into perspective.
Find Support Groups & Ask For Help
If your depression is heightened due to the loss of a family member or loved one, find a support group and talk about it. There are support groups for almost any situation you can imagine. Visit Mental Health America to find a support group that meets your unique needs.
If a support group isn’t available or isn’t an option, ask friends and family members to help you. A problem shared is a problem cut in half, as it goes.
Watch Your Food & Alcohol Intake
Overindulgence may feel good at the time, but not only is it unhealthy for your body, it can also result in feelings of guilt and shame. Alcohol serves to intensify emotions, which can be extremely dangerous for a depressed individual. To prevent overeating and drinking, prepare healthy snacks and meals in advance, and keep little if any alcohol in the house.
Just Say No
If you’re feeling overwhelmed with holiday commitments, it’s okay to say no. Christmas only lasts for 24-hours – figure out what you need to get through the day, whether it be volunteering, taking a vacation, or spending the day with only one or two people rather than your entire extended family. Take care of yourself first, and only commit to what you can physically and mentally handle.
CONTACT VITALITAS DENVER
If you or someone you love is struggling with depression or anxiety this holiday season, contact Vitalitas Denver for help. Whether or not ketamine infusions are the best solution for you, we can answer questions and help you find hope for the holidays.