The time has come where we put up the ghouls and goblins of Halloween and prepare for a time of happiness and cheerfulness in the holidays that follow. Christmas is supposedly the most wonderful time of the year where we celebrate the joys of being together. However, to some, Christmas can be one of the saddest times of the year.
Seasonal affective disorder, or more commonly known as seasonal depression, is a state of depression that comes within a seasonal pattern, especially during the holidays. It is during this time that people can see a negative spike in their mental health, predominantly in the winter season.
Seasonal depression can come from various different things. One of the biggest of these can be from loneliness. While the holidays are a time to be close to those we love and care about, there are some people out there that have no immediate family. Based on the different situations that some might be in, not all have a family to celebrate with and will often spend the holidays alone.
Sometimes even normal depression can play a hand in feeling lonely during the holidays. Being around loved ones and family and seeing the happiness that can come from all of that can make someone question why they aren’t happy when they’re around loved ones.
Another reason for this could be based around the financial obligation that the holidays bring. During Christmas time there is a significant change in spending for food and gifts. A major financial change like this could easily break the bank, which in turn causes stress to individuals and families that are not as wealthy as others.
Our society has created an expectation around the holidays that we as citizens can feel pressured to uphold. It is almost as if we are expected to bring the qualities of the holidays to the table every year. To those struggling to provide, this can cause them to feel intense failure, thus in turn making them feel down during what is supposed to be the happiest time of the year.
Much like normal depression, seasonal depression can be hard to pinpoint, along with the fact that it is subject to arise and change during the holidays. If anything, it can be harder since it arrives in a small window of time. Awareness is certainly there, but we should be doing so much more to help people out during this time.
Awareness comes from proper knowledge of the issues that seasonal depression can bring, but along with that knowledge comes practice. People should go out during the holidays and volunteer at events that focus on providing for the less fortunate. Overall, the simple act of being friendly can change someone’s day even if you don’t know it upfront.
For people suffering seasonal depression it is important that you express how you feel through the means of therapy and if necessary, by contacting the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) if that applies to the issues that you might be feeling. Other ideas can include planning out finances prior to the holiday season or taking a break for yourself and understanding that you don’t need physical things to be happy.
Depression is and continues to be a big issue that needs to be addressed in society and at times, it can be hard to fully express it if you suffer from it. It is a shame that the happiest time of the year can cause something like this to arise. It is important that we find those suffering and help them recover especially during this time.
Featured Illustration: Jae-Eun Suh