Does Christmas drive you nuts?
How could anyone be more blue at Christmas? It’s such a happy, warm and fuzzy time of year. Having practiced mental health for 26 years, I can tell you that Christmas blues are not only very real but they are surprisingly common. Very few people will admit to it though, due to the social stigma against anyone who isn’t happy at this time of year.
So why would people be more down, sad or anxious at Christmas? There are many reasons. I’ll give you a few so you can better understand what’s really going on in December.
Depression is more common in the darker winter months. Every Fall I noticed that my patients’ moods would often slip as soon as the clocks changed to Standard Time. Since Christmas comes when the days are shortest (in the Northern Hemisphere) then depression would be expected to be worse. I often had to increase antidepressant medication to get people through the winter months.
The Christmas season comes with unrealistic expectations of endless bliss which are fed to us by the media and retailers. We are told that everyone should have a Norman Rockwell or greeting card Christmas filled with fun, friends and gifts. This of course is usually impossible. Normal life does actually continue through the holiday season. We feel guilty though if we aren’t partying every night or are living within a budget.
Christmas turns the spotlight on relationships because of the expectation that everyone should be socializing. If you have had a broken relationship or have lost a loved one in the past year, Christmas will magnify the sense of loss and loneliness.
Christmas pushes people into dangerous levels of debt as a result of the competitive pressure to give bigger gifts. The media constantly reminds us that to enjoy the holidays we must be spending big. This creates unnecessary financial stress to individuals and marriages.
Christmas forces people together who might prefer to be apart. There is a false expectation that everyone wants to be together for the holidays. Interpersonal tensions can rise at Christmas as people are forced together where old wounds can be reopened and issues exposed. Many family gatherings are uncomfortable events as people pretend to enjoy the company of those they spend all year trying to avoid.
These are just a few of the many reasons why the Christmas season is so hard for many people. Let’s be more realistic about the holidays so they can be enjoyed and not just survived.
What do I do next?
If you see yourself in the symptoms above then you need to print this list out, underline all your symptoms and take it to your doctor and then your counsellor. It will give them both a summary of what you are experiencing so they can create a treatment plan.
We have lots of resources right here to help you understand depression, anxiety and mood swings. These resources will also help you understand the conditions so you can help a loved one.
Personal coaching appointments are available to get you started in the right direction.
Emotionally Free -the book that covers everything
DVDs/CDs/direct downloads -watch 5 minute previews online
•Depression, The Path to Recovery As 2 disc of 10 TV interviews with Dr. Mullen where he explains a Christian understanding of mental health issues including anxiety. Our most popular DVD.
•Moods, what Christians should know about depression, anxiety and mood swings Christians are often very confused and misinformed about the nature and treatment of mental illnesses. They are also very suspicious of psychiatric treatments, so many are suffering needlessly from correctable conditions. This presentation will remove the mystery and confusion about the diagnosis and treatment of mood disorders.
•Fear, When Trust is Lost You will get the tools to overcome and take control of the worries and fears that disrupt your life.
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