Depression and Christmas Time
If you are feeling depressed, Christmas can be a particularly difficult time. It seems everyone else is having fun, and, when it can take all your energy to just get through an ordinary day, the festive period brings the added pressure of Christmas shopping, parties, deadlines and sometimes family obligations or difficulties.
No amount of tinsel, glitter and ho, ho, ho may lift your mood, and you may well blame yourself for not getting in the spirit. You may wonder where the person you used to be has gone, or start to think of things that have gone on in the past. Sometimes it feels as if it will never end.
Around a fifth* of adults will experience depression and anxiety in their lifetime. There is thought to be a link between the body’s production of the neurotransmitter Serotonin and depression – but no-one is yet quite sure. This can be triggered by many different things, for example a loss; a physical condition, or situations you have found yourself in. It can come with anxiety; or even be caused by that, and is usually accompanied by negative thoughts.
Symptoms can include low mood, a loss of interest in things that used to give you pleasure, feelings of low self-worth, and a change in sleep patterns, appetite, and concentration. Everything can appear dark and some clients describe not wanting to see or talk to others, sometimes because they ‘don’t want to bother them with my problems’.
If these symptoms persist it is advisable to consult your GP. He or she may offer you some medication to lift your mood and help you cope with day to day life; but along with this, going to see a counsellor can be really helpful, to talk to someone who won’t judge you, who you won’t be ‘burdening’ and who can help you try to understand what may be causing your depression and what may help.
TIPS TO HELP WITH DEPRESSION AND CHRISTMAS TIME:
If you are feeling like this, and holiday closures means it is difficult to see someone, here are some tips that are known to help:
- Try to get out and get some exercise, even if only a little. Exercise and daylight – even in winter – are now known to combat the effects of depression; and exercise stimulates beneficial endorphins. Getting out will distract you from your thoughts, and you will also feel a little better about yourself for having done
- Mindfulness, relaxation and breathing exercises can help with anxiety
- If everything feels like too much effort, try to set yourself little goals, like making a cup of tea, or getting out of bed 10 minutes earlier if you are staying in bed a lot
- Try to keep in contact with people. ‘Those who lack… meaningful life connection are highly prone to becoming depressed, especially in the face of severe life stress. [Withdrawing]…exacerbates the depression,’ says Dr Steve Ilardi.** So try to keep in touch with friends and family
- Avoid alcohol – it is a depressant
- If financial, relationship or other worries are having an effect, use the holiday break to make a plan of action, for example go online to find out who to ask for help and advice
- Above all, be kind to yourself – understand that depression is an illness and that it is not your fault. As with any illness you will not be able to operate at 100% and need to look after yourself
- Eat healthily, particularly foods that are rich in essential fatty acids found in oily fish
Understanding the reasons for your depression can often be the first step towards healing.
AT TALK IN THE BAY ALL OUR COUNSELLOR’S ARE EXPERIENCED AND QUALIFIED TO HELP YOU.
Author: Sonia Wiltshire (Senior Counsellor at Talk In The Bay)
Other helpful organisations to help with depression and Christmas time:
Samaritans: 08457 90 90 90 (24 hours a day, 7 days a week).
Welsh language line: 0808 164 0123 (from 7pm – 11pm only, 7 days a week) – someone to talk to if you feel you can’t go on.
*Office for National Statistics, 2013
**The Depression Cure, Dr. Steve Ilardi