We are told that Christmas should be the happiest time of year, an opportunity to be joyful and grateful with family, friends and colleagues.
But for some people Christmas is the time of year that people experience a high incidence of depression and anxiety.
So why is this? Having been in this position myself it could be for a number of reasons.
One of the biggest reasons and certainly a big one for me appears to have more to do with unrealistic expectations and self-reflection from what has happened during the year.
Some people get depressed at Christmas and even angry because of the excessive commercialisation of it, with the focus on gifts and the emphasis on getting that “perfect” gift for family and friends.
Others become anxious at Christmas because of the pressure (both commercial and self-induced) to spend a lot of money on gifts and incur increasing debt. Some people dread Christmas because of the expectations for social gatherings with family, friends and acquaintances that they are worried about spending time with and who there may have been problems with throughout the year.
Some people from separated families also have that added pressure of trying to please everyone and who to see at Christmas.
And finally, many people feel very lonely at Christmas, sometimes because they’ve often experienced a significant life change such as losing their job, or grieving for a loved one.
So what do I recommend you do, if you’re among those who like me get a little depressed at Christmas.
First, if the depression is serious, seek out the help of a qualified mental health professional as soon as possible. Please please speak to someone and don’t bottle it up. Do not be ashamed! It’s ok to feel like this and you can be helped.
Don’t worry about the “perfect” representation of Christmas that the media or other people try to make you believe. Lower your expectations and any attachment to what it should look like; and enjoy each moment as best you can.
Perhaps you could get involved in giving in a non-monetary way through charities and worthwhile causes that help less fortunate people.
Be grateful for what you have in your life, family, friends, work, rather than focusing on what you don’t have.
Take action and do interesting and fun things; exercise and being outdoors works for me!
Focus your thoughts on all the good things about this time of year. I personally find this very hard but have to do it for the sake of my four-year-old.
Take the opportunity to engage in loving kindness, generosity of spirit, and gratitude for others in your life.
The Christmas season is difficult time for many people. I find it very hard and hope it won’t always feel this way.
For those who are depressed, it’s an opportunity to take action to think, feel and act in ways that breaks free from the past. I know I shall be doing this on New Year’s Eve as I always do.
For those of you who don’t have difficulties at this time of year, it’s an opportunity to reach out to those who become depressed. Support and please don’t judge. Just be a friend and be there to listen if that person wants to talk. They may not want to.
I wish you all a very happy and healthy Christmas and new year.
Thank you for taking the time to read this.
Sergeant Ben Dimmock
If you’re experiencing depression over the festive period, there are people who can help.
Take a look at the following links for more information: