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Holiday depression is a common problem


Last updated 12/12/2019 at 8:49pm

‘Tis the season when everyone is bombarded with happy holiday images. Advertisers continually show rejoicing families with their new cars, children opening piles of presents around the Christmas tree and countless cheery family gatherings – upbeat images, laughing children and plenty of holiday joy.

Except this image simply isn’t true for everyone. All those happy holiday images and promotion of all the good times and pleasures of the season can build up unrealistic expectations and not just for those children asking Santa for a pony. Adults can just as easily get overwhelmed by the holiday hype and find themselves disappointed and depressed when they aren’t able to provide or participate in the holiday happiness that it seems everyone else is enjoying.

There are a variety of things that can contribute to holiday depression aside from the realization that the family holidays are not going to be like the “perfect” ones that the media and advertisers love to portray. One important factor can be the transition to winter. The shorter, darker and colder days can bring on “seasonal affective disorder” for many, in which the reduction in sunlight in this season can leave a person feeling listless and moody.

The holiday season can also bring lifestyle changes. Holiday treats and more opportunities to drink can mean healthy diets take a backseat. Add in a busier schedule, holiday parties, gift buying tensions and any number of other holiday pressures, and it’s easy to feel tired, unhealthy, overweight and depressed.

And how can people avoid all these problems? They can start by first being very aware of the holiday challenges they’re facing. Skip all those holiday treats and parties and they’ll end up feeling deprived and more likely to over-indulge. Instead, use common sense and moderation. Enjoy the parties, but drink sensibly, don’t overeat and get plenty of rest.

It’s also a season when it’s easy to forget to get regular exercise. Studies show that even moderate amounts of exercise can lift a person’s spirits as well as burn off the unwanted calories of the season.

Don’t let depression rule the holidays and spend the time hiding. Socializing has been shown to be a great way to combat the blues. But if a person finds that holiday depression is continuing, it may be time to talk to a professional counselor. Depression is a serious and potentially dangerous mental health issue but one that is very treatable.

Counseling Corner is provided by the American Counseling Association. Send comments and questions to [email protected] or visit


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