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Why Depression Can Flare Over the Holidays

The holidays are meant to be a joyous, celebratory time for families across the country. But for those already living with depression, the hustle and bustle of the season can trigger increases in depressive symptoms.

At Revolution Psychiatric and Addiction Treatment, Richard E. Repass, MD, offers comprehensive care for depression and common coexisting disorders like anxiety and addiction.

Dr. Repass uses BR+NAD™ infusions and cognitive therapies to help you manage your depression year-round. He can work with you through in-person visits or the telemedicine platform to help you prepare for and cope with increased depression during the holidays.

The link between holidays and depression

There are a variety of factors involved in the holidays that can make dealing with depression that much more difficult. These factors often include:

Excess stress

The biggest connection between the holidays and an increase in your depression symptoms is the excess stress holiday-related events may put on you.

The busy holiday season might add more social events and to-do lists than you’re used to dealing with in your everyday life. If you’re already struggling financially, having to buy gifts and prepare large meals for family can be a trigger for anxiety and depression.

Disruption in your schedule

When you spend more time shopping and socializing and less time at home, it can disrupt your usual schedule.

It’s easy to move off track of healthy eating and daily exercise when you’re busy. These habits are important when you’re trying to manage depression. And when you stop exercising and eating healthy, you may increase your overall stress and depressive symptoms.

Family demands

Spending time with family around the holidays is a tradition for many. But the increased responsibilities, demands, and emotions connected with being around family can be difficult if you’re already feeling depressed.

On the other side of the coin, if you aren’t close with family or have no family to celebrate with, you may face exacerbated feelings of loneliness, sadness, and hopelessness.

Expectations versus reality

Television and movies often highlight close familial bonds and big holiday celebrations. If you’re hoping for, but don’t get, the same scene in your own life at each family gathering, it can be disappointing.

Those already living with depression may have difficulty setting expectations for the holidays that are based on reality. You may also become easily overwhelmed if you’re not feeling your best while everyone around is celebrating.

Tips for keeping your depression in check during the holidays

One of the most important things you can do for yourself leading up to the holidays is follow through with your recommended treatment plan. If you’re not yet receiving treatment, schedule a consultation with us at Revolution Psychiatric and Addiction Treatment to gain more control over your depressive symptoms.

Other effective ways to better manage depression during the holidays include:

Pare down your to-do list

If you’re overwhelmed by all that’s expected of you, consider cutting out unnecessary events and activities during the holiday season. 

Choose just a few events to attend if you want to socialize or stick with a more intimate gathering of your closest family and friends.

Stick to a budget

Financial stress can last much longer than the holiday season. In advance of the biggest shopping season of the year, set a budget and commit to sticking with it. 

Check in with family and friends about forgoing gifts for the year or buy only for a few cherished people in your life.

Avoid the chaos

If your family holiday gatherings tend to be rowdy and unpleasant, stop in for just a brief time or don’t go at all. By protecting yourself from the chaos, you’re practicing self-care and protecting your peace of mind.

Set realistic expectations

No one can do it all. Keep reminding yourself that you deserve to enjoy the holidays rather than suffer through them. Set realistic expectations about what to expect and what you can manage. 

Enlist the support of loved ones who understand what you’re going through and don’t be afraid to ask for help.

To learn more about the available treatments for depression, call our Mercer Island, Washington, office today to book an appointment.

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