tips to deal with Christmas depression | depression help | Terezia Farkas | author | Beliefnet

Christmas depression is really, really tough for someone depressed. Even though friends and family and the world in general seem to be full joy, that doesn’t mean a person with mental illness feels that same joy. Depression doesn’t change quickly with food, drink, happy songs and presents. Many things about Christmas can actually trigger thoughts that could make depression symptoms worse.

 Here are 5 tips to deal with Christmas depression.

1. Connect. Depression loves isolation. When you’re alone, all you have are those negative thoughts and emotions surrounding you. Sometimes those thoughts can lead to ideas of suicide. Call over friends. One friend can be enough, because the goal is for you to have supportive, non-judgemental support. Talk to your neighbour. You’ll be surprised that a neighbour can become a close friend. Even pets stave off loneliness. If depression starts feeling severe, seek professional support. If you know someone suffering with depression, don’t wait for that person to call you. Make the first move and connect!

2. Feel No Shame. There’s no shame about feeling depressed. We’re scared of what people will think about us and no one likes to be judged. But staying silent because you’re embarrassed or afraid only adds to the pain you’re suffering. Stigma keeps us from talking with others about what hurts. Don’t be embarrassed. Depression is a medical condition, something real that affects the brain. Chances are you someone you know is suffering from depression. Depression affects 1 in 4 people. You don’t need to hide because someone may realize you’re depressed.

3. Expect the Bad, Accept the Good. Thoughts about the past or worries about the future can make you see only bad things now. Seeing the whole world happy and joyful can make a person feel sad and more depressed. Don’t put pressure on yourself to have a good time just because everyone else is. Expect bad emotional days and when they happen, go with the flow. Accept any moment that’s good. For those who’ve invited someone over who is depressed, don’t try to force the person to be joyful or grateful. The simple act of showing up at your place was probably a big challenge. And while you might not see it or feel it expressed, the person is happy that someone cares. 

4. Avoid Family Drama. Some people can’t help but create drama. People don’t change who they are overnight. Nor will they suddenly love you or want to be your friend. Family drama only diminishes your self-esteem, isolates you, and leaves you feeling more alone than before. Be realistic and know that others are bringing personal baggage to the party. You don’t need to take their problems and make it your own. If you can’t take the drama, don’t go to the party. Make up an excuse or just be blunt. There’s no need to get yourself worked up. Because…

5. You First. It’s tough to take care of others when you’re depressed. Your energy only extends to you and maybe one or two people. You need to come first when you’re depressed. Of course that’s the last person you want to take care of or care about. But it’s important you don’t let others walk over you with demands or negativity. Need alone time? Take it! Be gentle with yourself. Treat yourself first. Give yourself permission to feel miserable or to cry or to swear. Accept practical help when offered. You don’t have to do everything yourself. Let others lift some of the load off your shoulders. 

 For people who invite someone over who has depression or anxiety disorder, please do not put pressure on them to be joyful. The fact that the person showed up should be enough, because it might be their biggest challenge at the time, Understand depression and its limitations. Love the person for who he/she is, not for what you want and expect the person to be. It’s not the person’s fault. The person is doing the best he/she can, may not show joyfulness very often and worry way too much, but the person is alive and that’s what should be celebrated every day of the year.

Twitter:  @tereziafarkas  #depression #anxietydisorder #Christmas

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