The holiday season is often thought of as a joyous time associated with joy, cheer, and celebration. But for many people, the holidays can also be a time of increased stress, anxiety, and even depression.
Depression during the holidays, also known as the "holiday blues," is a common phenomenon.
The added financial strain, sadness and loneliness, and pressure to meet everyone's expectations, not to mention your own, can take a toll on mental health.
What Triggers the Holiday Blues?
One of the biggest triggers of the holiday blues is our many unrealistic expectations for the holiday season. We often see images of happy families gathered around the Christmas tree, exchanging gifts and enjoying each other's company.
But the reality for many people is often very different. Family gatherings can be filled with tension and conflict, and the pressure to have the perfect holiday – the perfect tree, gifts, and family gatherings – can be overwhelming.
For people already struggling with depression, the increased stress and pressure of the holidays can exacerbate their symptoms, leading to sadness, hopelessness, and loss of interest in once-cherished traditions or activities.
Additionally, the shorter days of the winter season can lower one's mood, contributing to a sense of hopelessness and isolation. And for those who have lost loved ones or cannot be with their families, the holidays can be particularly challenging and lonely. These symptoms only worsen when coupled with the colder weather, often making it more challenging to get out and socialize.
When the Holiday Blues Lead to Substance Use
The holiday blues can sometimes lead to or be triggered by substance use disorders, as many people may turn to alcohol or drugs as a way to cope with their tough emotions. However, this can quickly turn into a dangerous cycle.
Over time, consistent dependency on alcohol or drug use as a means to cope can lead to addiction, seriously affecting a person's health, relationships, and overall well-being.
Getting Help for Holiday Depression
It's important to remember that if you are feeling down during the holidays, you are not alone. Many people experience the holiday blues, and there are steps you can take to effectively alleviate your symptoms and manage your depression without turning to substances to manage it all.
One of the most vital things you can do is take care of yourself during this mentally and emotionally overwhelming time of year. It's okay to set boundaries and say no to events or activities that don't feel right for you.
Likewise, it is crucial to remember that the holiday season is not a "one-size-fits-all" experience. If you struggle with depression during the holidays, you know better than anyone that what might be the most joyous time for some can be the most difficult time for others. And that's okay.
The same goes for depression treatments that may help some people cope and make the most of the holidays, but not everyone.
When Standard Treatments Don't Work, You Deserve to Give it a Second Chance
If traditional treatments for depression, such as antidepressants, aren't working for you, it likely means a better treatment option is on the horizon for you.
One such therapy is transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS), which uses magnetic pulses to stimulate nerve activity in specific areas of your brain, effectively alleviating the symptoms of depression and chronic psychiatric disorders.
Another option is Spravato, an FDA-approved nasal spray that offers rapid antidepressant effects for those with treatment-resistant depression.
If you are struggling with depression or substance use disorders - no matter the season - don't hesitate to contact us at 2nd Chance for professional and personalized support. We offer TMS Therapy, Spravato, and other treatments and therapies to help people overcome mental health and substance use disorders.