The holidays are stressful for everyone, but for some, they can also mark a depressing time of year. If you are struggling with stress or depression, there are some treatments to look into. In this guide, we will explore the difference between holiday stress and holiday depression, along with solutions for both.
Dealing with Holiday Stress
Holiday stress can be brought on for a variety of reasons. Preparing for a big meal, traveling to see family, buying presents for your children, taking time off work – there are many factors that go into Thanksgiving, Christmas, and other winter holidays. This stress may cause you to lose sleep, change your eating habits, become forgetful, or feel irritable. However, those feelings will subside once the holidays have passed.
This is one of the key differences between holiday stress and holiday depression. Stress is fleeting and situational. Depression has deeper roots and thus requires different treatment methods.
The Solution: You may not be able to fully eliminate holiday stress, but you can work to reduce it. Start by taking some pressure off yourself. You don’t have to make everything perfect. Just do the best you can. If you are hosting dinner, ask other people to bring the side dishes. Then all you have to worry about is the protein. If you have guests coming, focus on cleaning the main areas they will interact with. If you have a messy master bedroom or basement, chances are they won’t notice.
Most importantly, remember that this stress will go away. It has in the past, and it will again.
Dealing with Holiday Depression
Holiday depression has some of the same symptoms as holiday stress, but the cause is different. In many cases, holiday depression is the result of grief. A person may become depressed thinking about a loved one who will no longer be around for the holidays. Alternatively, holiday depression may be a heightened form of general depression. Feelings of sadness, loneliness and helplessness are intensified during the holidays.
There is also a condition known as seasonal affective disorder (SAD). This occurs in the late fall, transitioning into the winter. Less frequently, SAD may occur in the spring and summer. The exact cause of seasonal affective disorder is unclear, but it most likely comes from a lack of sun exposure, combined with stress from the holidays and gloomier weather in the winter.
The Solution: Holiday depression and seasonal affective disorder are best treated through therapy. You can work with a therapist one-on-one to discuss the root cause of your depression. Did you experience a traumatic event that is affecting you in the present? Are there unresolved emotions you need to work through? Moreover, what can you do to reverse negative thought patterns and improve your quality of life? Your therapist will help you find personalized solutions that fit your lifestyle.
Connect with a Therapist near You
If you would like to talk to a therapist, contact Heron Ridge Associates at (734) 454-3560. We have counselors who specialize in stress management, depression treatment, anxiety treatment, couples counseling, and more. You will be matched with the best therapist for your personal needs. Get support and guidance from a licensed therapist who truly cares about your wellbeing.