Coping with Holiday Depression

Winter Blues Coping TipsThe holiday blues are characterized by mild to moderate depression that occurs around the holidays. It leaves a person feeling as though he cannot give as much as desired because of finances. This year has the potential to be particularly hard what with the economic crisis, layoffs, upcoming layoffs, mortgage crisis, and the general state of the nation. There are a few ways to cope with the holiday blues. The holiday blues can be part of or lead to seasonal depression or Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), a type of depression that strikes during the dreary winter months. The holiday blues is a real depressive condition that can be serious. Statistics around the holidays show an increased suicide attempts and thoughts, substance addiction, and overeating, other unhealthy ways of coping. Although some get through it, others needs to check the mild depression before it turns into a full blown depressive disorder.

Things You Will Need

open communication
sun light therapy lamp
assertive communication skills

Step 1

Communication is Coping

Be honest with yourself and others about the holiday blues. Family can usually sense something is wrong anyhow, so telling them you have low energy or feel sort of depressed is a good idea. If your financial situation means less holiday spending and changing Christmas celebrations talk with the family about it. Communication will help curb the holiday blues. When you don't feel so alone with the blackness or despair it lessens the burden.

Step 2

Talk About It

Communicate with others about the economy and what it means for you. If these topics are taboo in your home then this can instill a maladaptive way of coping with stress which can lead to depression and other problems. Use reasonable boundaries. Children may not understand what your financial problems mean, but they know if you don't have money or if your spending habits change. Kids sense the holiday blues and changes in parents probably before the parents know. They are very intuitive, so avoiding talking can create anxiety because they feel your tension. The stress on children can lead to their internalization of the stress. Talk to them age-appropriately. Try to open up to family members as well if they are supportive. Sometimes sharing the burden lessens the weight of it and will help you cope with the holiday blues or a winter depression.

Step 3

Plan activities with your family and friends. Despite feeling down or depressed spending time with your friends and family in healthy ways can help with your mental health. Avoid alcohol and drugs during the holidays. Christmas and other holidays like Thanksgiving and New Year's Eve can be very hard for those in recovery and those suffering from a holiday depression. It's easy to justify drinking more or relapsing during this time, but it wont help the depression. It is very helpful to make these alcohol and drug free activities. Finding a way to do the holidays sober can be challenging, but there are sober holiday tips. Utilize any positive support you have during this time. Alcohol and food, although tempting, is not the healthiest way to cope with the holiday blues. These can lead to increased sedation and weight gain which often decreases self-esteem and increases the likelihood of furthering depression. Use holiday non-alcoholic drinks instead of real ones. This is safer anyhow.

Step 4

Gratitude Out of Holiday Depression

Focus on the things that are working in your life and what you can do. It is very hard to realize that your house, car, job, and other things that you have worked hard to get may be in jeopardy or have been lost. An essential coping skill is to keep in sight what you do have, your accomplishments, and what you have within reach.

Make a gratitude list to remind yourself what is important to you and what keeps you going day to day. This list can be as simple as finding matching socks, talking to a friend, being able to read and write so you can make a gratitude list, watching a sunset...the list is yours and is endless.

Step 5

Creative Gift Giving

Be creative with your gifts if this is one of your concerns. You are more important than the amount of money in your wallet and the type of car you drive. Remember that gifts are not about quantity or what television tells you is important. The media lies! Sure, it's nice to have material possessions and open gifts during the holidays, but the best gift is your time. Spending time with those who are important to you is a present itself.

If money worries are part of your holiday blues and depression then there are some ways to get the things you want without over-spending. You should take advantage of Black Friday deals. There are other ways to save money on iPods, gadget items, discount laptops, refurbished Mac laptops, and other deals. Use layaway. Shop for one big gift instead of lots of small ones. Give love.

Step 6

Signs of Depression

If you slip into a depression that goes beyond a down, holiday blues, ho-hum type mood, seek professional help. Depression can be treated. It is helpful in these times to avoid alcohol, eat as healthy as possible, and get some exercise. Don't put off seeking assistance whether it is for mental health issues, food or energy assistance, or financial help.

Signs of depression include loss of appetite, overeating, sleeping trouble, irritability, fatigue, cloudy thinking, loss of hope, loss of libido, physical aches and pains, isolation, and a general lack of interest in things that used to bring pleasure. These are only a few symptoms of depression and they are generally considered to fall into the lines of depression when they last longer than two weeks.

There are a few medical things that you can check if you feel down or depressed. Go to the doctor and tell them your symptoms. Some simple blood tests can be done to check your thyroid, testosterone, vitamin D levels, and a general check to see if you're anemic. All of these can present as depression symptoms. Women needs their testosterone checked because low t in women can cause many problems.

Step 7

Give to Others to Cope with Holiday Blues

One way to use gratitude is to give away your own compassion. Call up some local shelters to see what needs they have. If you are living in a house then someone is living in the streets and needs shelter, blankets, coats, food, and so on. Take the family on Thanksgiving to a homeless shelter and help others fight their holiday blues for a day. This usually creates a positive vortex within and is huge at helping to cope with your own depression. Organize a family clothing drive. Give away your used coats to kids. Donate time.


Tips & Warnings

*If you have thoughts of suicide talk to your doctor immediately or call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK (8255)
*Define what the holiday season means for you and disregard the media.
Pay attention to the level of your holiday blues. Pay attention to family members, too, to see if they have a holiday depression. This is especially important for elderly folks.
*Using light therapy to fight and prevent Seasonal Affective Disorder is effective. Use it as directed and make sure to get a light therapy lamp that uses LUX lighting like the NatureBright lamp above.

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