Depression during the holidays

Be warned: It may not actually be the most wonderful time of the year.  Society portrays the holidays as a time of love and peace and joy and happiness and snow and all else that is good. But constant reminders of love in other people’s lives can serve as a reminder of the love and happiness that’s missing in our own lives.

Here are some pitfalls to watch for:

Unrealistic expectations

People often have an anticipation or fantasy of a holiday you’d see on TV. It’s never exactly as people anticipate and this is often disappointing. Add to this that there’s often family strife. It’s important during the holidays to manage your expectations.  If holidays tend to be a time of conflict in your family or if there’s been a recent loss, it would be realistic to expect some difficulties.  And expecting everyone to get along or be cheerful just adds pressure.  Realize that some minor frustration, tension, or disappointment doesn’t ruin the holidays.

Attempting too much

We do get bogged down by perfectionism at times and attempt to do more than is wise.  You can choose to limit your responsibilities by proactively choosing which activities are really a priority to you. Saying ‘no’ to some things doesn’t make you a Scrooge… it just makes you less frazzled.

Comparing your Clark Kent to others’ Superman

It can be hard to avoid comparing yourself to others around Christmastime.  Maybe your family is less-than-perfect.  Or your holiday calendar isn’t as full as you think others’ are. Comparing your holiday experience with others’ is a recipe for increased sadness and isolation.  Plus, such comparisons tend to be skewed to make us feel bad about ourselves. We wind up comparing our weaknesses to others’ strengths.

Seasonal Affective Disorder

Sometimes the winter blues are more than just the winter blues.  If you find that you tend to feel down around the holidays and don’t feel like yourself again until spring, you may have a condition known as Seasonal Affective Disorder.  This is a treatable disorder.

If your winter blues last longer than a few weeks or if you begin to have thoughts of harming yourself or others, that’s a sign that of more significant issues. It’s time to seek professional help.