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  • Writer's pictureLisa Jones

Why do I feel depressed at Christmas?

Seasonal Depression

Any anniversary or date can trigger strong feelings and often Christmas holds memories for us of bad times as well as good. This could originate in childhood where we longed for togetherness, love and gifts but instead we felt desperately disappointed and alone. Feeling low and sad is then mixed with an expectation on us to feel happy and put on a brave face. This supresses our ability to express those negative emotions and triggers an overall sense, at that time of year, of inexplicable melancholy.

It might be that we have lost someone we love and Christmas is a time when we would be together with them, we feel the loss more acutely and try to compensate for the anticipated sadness. We may have lost a job and feel immense pressure to spend money we haven’t got on gifts and extra food.

Whatever our unique, personal circumstance we find ourselves surrounded by jolly music, festive events and shops urging us to spend money. If we are alone at Christmas time, it seems the whole world is enjoying the company of loved ones and friends having a good time.

This perception of the “perfect” Christmas, just isn’t true. Life goes on as it does for the rest of the year. Tragic events, sadness and conflict happen on the 25th December just like any other day. There are a lot of people gritting their teeth and getting through the festive period without feeling 100% and imagining they are the only ones.

Over Christmas there is an increase in people calling the Samaritans helpline, visiting GPs for depression and getting into financial difficulty. If you feel low in the lead up to Christmas, find comfort in knowing you are not alone. There are ways to get through it without plunging into deeper depression and feeling desperately alone.

  • If you feel seriously depressed go to your GP

  • Carefully budget and manage the amount you spend on gifts and going out

  • Know that the “perfect” Christmas doesn’t exist

  • Remember there are other people feeling the same as you

  • Lower your expectations and see it as “just another day”

  • Seek out any charitable activities you can contribute to by giving your time

  • Avoid getting caught up in negative thoughts and find small activities to keep you occupied such as doing a jigsaw puzzle or going for a walk

  • Write a letter to someone showing you appreciate them, it costs nothing and lifts the spirits

The Christmas season has become a difficult time for many people in our society. For those of us who don't have difficulties it can be an opportunity to reach out to those who feel less fortunate.

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