Something that is considered ‘the most wonderful time of the year’ for many can actually be filled with a lot of sadness and depression. So whilst some people will be having the best time, others will be suffering in the background. Many don’t realise that people actually suffer from depression at what is considered to be a happy time of year but in reality, it’s actually really common.

Christmas comes with high expectations of making sure that everything goes well, everyone is with their families as they enjoy celebrations and gifts, but it’s not like that for everyone. If someone has suffered a loss of a loved one, if someone no longer is in contact with their family, if they feel isolated, financial difficulties, family tension, it can make it the hardest time of year.

What is depression?

It’s more than just feeling unhappy for a few days, it can be months and months of feeling down, it’s a real illness and has real symptoms. Depression can be just being low for a while, it won’t stop you living your normal life but can make things feel less important and harder. But it can also become severe, to a point that you may feel suicidal. Depression is not for ‘attention’ it’s real and it’s serious and it’s something that if you have it, should be treated.

Triggers for depression at Christmas

Financial difficulties

A common trigger for depression is money like any time it can be a blessing but it can also be a burden especially when the festive season hits. It’s a struggle when you want to splurge out on the cash and give your loved ones special gifts, but sometimes that is not always possible. It might not even be gifts, it could be going out for social events. People may feel like they have to spend loads of money to ensure that Christmas is good, but that will actually make depression worse and it’ll feel like the most stressful time of year.

The best thing to do is identify what is causing that stress if it’s buying gifts than maybe suggest to your family and friends to only buy gifts for the kids to save some money, or perhaps you do like a name out of a hat and create small gifts for each adult, set a budget and stick to it, doesn’t matter how much it is if you budget it’ll make you feel a little bit better. If your buying for a family member or a friend, perhaps go halves with someone who is also close to them. Split it in half and that way it’ll save you money and them.

Social events can be a lot of money, going out for a meal can become expensive or even going out for drinks, just skip going out and have it in the comfort of your own home. Gather those you want and grab some cheap snacks and make some Christmassy food, all chip in and bring an ingredient to the gathering, this way it’ll be cheaper and you’ll be somewhere your comfortable with.

Family tension

Family, you either love them or you dislike them, you’re not always going to get on, but at a time like Christmas, it can be extremely difficult to not feel awkward. Just because you’re related doesn’t always mean you’re going to get along. Perhaps parents have divorced but they still want to have Christmas altogether, a fall out with other relatives, or even disagreements that have left tension conflicts that have been unresolved and always get brought up when everyone’s together.

It can be difficult to enjoy Christmas when certain family members don’t see eye to eye, but there are ways in which you can try and push the negativity aside. If you have children, put them first, think of Christmas as a day for them and focus on making them happy.

Reliase that Christmas may not be the happiest of reunions, know when to take yourself away from the drama and how to cope when depression hits. If there’s a certain topic that perhaps makes arguments arise, then it’s best to avoid bringing it up. Don’t feel pressured into inviting people around that bring negativity to your life and your Christmas, even if they’re family. The most important thing is that you and the ones you love are around you, there’s no time for negative energy or family drama.

Loneliness

Honestly, the worst part of Christmas is spending it alone, you feel isolated, depressed and waiting for the festive season to end. Whether you feel lonely because of the loss of a loved one, not being in contact with family, being distant from your loved ones, these are all common causes of depression at Christmas, no one should be alone.

If you want to do a good deed and surround yourself with others, perhaps volunteering at a local shelter for Christmas is what you need, to take your mind off things and know you’re helping others. There are always charities that need help. Join in with the community, you may not feel like it, but find out what’s going on locally, Christmas carols, Christmas markets, other community events that you could attend. Don’t forget that technology can be positive, you can connect with your loved ones online through video chat.

Looking after yourself when you feel lonely or depressed at Christmas is a must, maybe make yourself a special breakfast, watch your favourite films, buy your favourite food and drink, buy yourself a gift you’ve always wanted, these are all ways you can make yourself feel important even if you are on your own. Perhaps, attending a local church service would be beneficial.

Divorce or separation 

Something that is hard to go through, is seeing a divorce or separation happen or actually going through it, especially at this time of year. If you’re newly divorced, the holidays may spring back memories of happier times and accentuate grief. It’s especially difficult for young adults who have to balance seeing two parents.  It can be really tense and distressing to go through and not knowing how Christmas will pan out. It’s all about communication even though it may be difficult, talking to the other parent and making plans for the festivities that won’t clash with what they have planned, giving days and times to see the children.

Maybe having a day that isn’t Christmas day but you still do all the celebrations and give gifts with the children, if the other parent is actually having them on the day.

Sometimes their can be conflict when both parents ‘compete’ with each other by buying their children better gifts or spending more on them, which may make the other parent feel down and depressed because they feel like they’ve let their children down. There’s no need to one-up each other, just because your no longer together doesn’t mean you have to make each other feel miserable.

Call Samaritans, on 116 123 or email them on jo@samaritans.org.

Call Age UK on 0800 055 6112  open every day from 8 am-7 pm or send them an email on contact@ageuk.org.uk.

Call Mind on 020 8519 2122 or email them on supporterrelations@mind.org.uk.

http://www.counsellorwhocares.co.uk

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Journalism Student