With November upon us, expect to see lots of joyful Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s ads plastered on your TV’s and mobile devices. And while that’s all fine and dandy, it is worth noting that this season can stir up difficult emotions as well. In fact, many studies have shown that depression, anxiety and addictive tendencies all increase during the “holiday season.”
Recently Forbes touched upon this timely issue, calling out several of the triggers that can dredge up dark feelings. Stress, for example, is much more common during the November and December months due to an increase of demands. Everything from work deadlines, to holiday shopping lists, to travel hassles and what have you. A lot can be expected of a person during this period and it is important to take a step back for mental health checks and self care.
Anxiety is another common emotion during this time of year. Though the idea of spending time with family is exciting to most, there can be certain loved ones who create anxious feelings. Facing a dysfunctional family member (who perhaps harassed or abused you) can be tremendously difficult and often times drives people to use in order to escape painful memories.
On the family front, grief also comes into play. Perhaps this is the first Thanksgiving without a parent or a grandparent. That, in itself, is incredibly painful and can send people into a depressive spiral. Divorce and separation is often thrust to the forefront too, especially if you’re anticipating uncomfortable confrontations with an ex.
The Forbes piece called out a specific symptom of depression that occurs during the holiday season. It is defined as “anhedonia” or the loss of interest in previously enjoyable activities. Basically, it is the inability to experience joy or pleasure.
“This is a time when there is an increase in stressful demands, an inability to sidestep family issues, and heavy emphasis put on managing expectations,” Forbes writer Anita Sanz explained in the article. “Thus, the holidays can leave a person dealing with depression with increased feelings of sadness, guilt, inadequacy, overwhelm, alienation, and unworthiness.”
So what can be done to combat these issues? The article goes on to lay out several helpful tactics; including creating laid out plans and timelines, setting realistic expectations and simply avoiding toxic situations. We too are making ourselves available during these months to lend support to anyone anticipating a difficult end of the year. Please, reach out in advance and save yourself unnecessary trauma and pain.