Depression On Christmas: The twelve days of Christmas are filled with joy, merriment, and good old Christmas cheer. It’s the season of love, peace, and happiness. It’s the one time of the year when we get off work, spend time with our families, dash for some last-minute shopping, eat and drink, go to parties and family get-togethers, enjoy gifts, and celebrate a perfect Christmas. But for many of us, the holidays are a time filled with anxiety and depression. Christmas stress and anxiety can often intensify feelings of sadness among those suffering from depression.
“Christmas is not a time or a season but a state of mind. To cherish peace and goodwill, to be plenteous in mercy is to have the real spirit of Christmas.” – Calvin Coolidge
‘The Most Stressful Time of the Year’
“I’m so depressed. Christmas is the worst of all. The holidays are terrible, worse than Sundays. I get melancholia.” – David O. Selznick
It may be the most wonderful time of the year for the rest of the world, but for me, Christmas is riddled with loneliness and anxiety. But it didn’t start out like that. I used to love Christmas and everything about it, especially the gifts. But soon things started to change as I got older.
The pressure to have a perfect Christmas and to be happy despite whatever is going on inside me did not make sense to me anymore.
And so I started to dread it. Whenever I saw the first Christmas decorations displayed in shops, I could feel the holiday stress boil inside me. My anxiety and depression eventually made me hate Christmas and I would feel like Scrooge. Or better yet like the Grinch.
The truth is, Christmas is a scary and stressful time for me that makes me even more depressed than I usually am and it’s not something I can easily explain to others who are drunk with Christmas cheer. While everyone else is wrapped in red, green and white, I find myself stuck in the pit of blackness.
Why Christmas can be depressive
“The Grinch hated Christmas! The whole Christmas season!
Now, please don’t ask why. No one quite knows the reason.
It could be his head wasn’t screwed on just right.
It could be, perhaps, that his shoes were too tight.
But I think that the most likely reason of all
May have been that his heart was two sizes too small.”
– Dr. Seuss, How the Grinch Stole Christmas!
Contrary to popular belief, a lot of people feel stress, anxiety, and depression during the holidays. And most of these people, including me, have some good reasons for hating Christmas.
If you take a good look at the way Christmas is celebrated, you will find numerous surprising reasons that can lead to anxiety instead of happiness and joy. Elements like loneliness, loss of a family member, estrangement, toxic families, financial woes, work pressure, and traumatic experiences during the holiday season can add to the unpleasant feeling of stress. Moreover, the pressure to enjoy the perfect Christmas can trigger depression and anxiety further.
Some of the most common reasons for feeling anxious during Christmas include:
- Financial worries
- Family problems
- Health issues
- Loss of a loved one
- Longing for happier memories from the past
- Christmas environment & features
- Anxiety about social situations
- Festive workload
- Excessive expectations
- Additional household chores
- Pressure for celebrating the perfect Christmas
- Commercialization of the holidays
Many people feel isolated and anxious about social gatherings during Christmas. Moreover, others feel compelled to buy new presents, outfits and other festive essentials that impact their already dwindling bank balance.
However, despite how common depression is around this time of year, most of us choose to suffer in silence. And those who want to speak out and seek help are unable to find any. It has been observed that during the festive season even with high demands, mental health services operate with reduced staff. Due to the lack of proper professional support, most of the requests for help are left unmet.
Coping with holiday anxiety and depression
“Depression is useful. It signals that you need to make changes in your life, it challenges your tendency to withdraw, it reminds you to take action.” – Gloria Anzaldua
With stress running high inside you while the holiday cheer warms everyone else’s hearts, you need to find some effective strategies to manage your stress, anxiety and depression on Christmas to protect your emotional and mental well being.