If you have not suffered from anxiety disorders before, you’ll probably find the topic of this article a bit strange, because Christmas, to you, is a time to be happy and celebrate. That is absolutely true. But I’m afraid not everybody feels this way. Many people find the month of December, as a whole, very stressful and depressing for various reasons, some of which I will briefly look at in this article, and then share five tips to help you avoid being depressed at Christmas.
“…Being depressed at Christmas…” Doesn’t that slightly sound paradoxical – as we know Christmas represents a time of celebrations and reflection of the birth of Jesus Christ, who is the Prince of PEACE?
But looking at the statistics, many people never know celebration, never mind the overwhelming peace of the Saviour. Studies show that suicide and attempted suicide rate is particularly very high during the Christmas period, with both the Police and hospitals having to cope with incidences related to suicide than they can cope with.
Does Christmas really bring more pain than peace?
Of course, we all know that it has nothing to do with the true meaning Christmas, so to say. Rather, more often than not, our anxiety, depression and a sense of emptiness have a lot to do with our reactions to the event – the meanings we give to things, our thinking patterns and our exceptions. For example, our personal ideas about how a perfect Christmas should feel like, look like and even sound like, can directly affect how we feel about it all – stressed or strengthened.
So, Why the Anxiety?
Some people dread Christmas because of the money issues – the pressure to spend the money they may not really have on gifts, clothes and other festive so called “essentials,” until they end up with increasing debt. I can relate to this a lot because Christmas time used to stress me out, not because of what it represents, but because of the money I had to spend on many gifts as I belong to a huge extended family that likes to give gifts to each other at Christmas. But thankfully, a couple of years ago, someone in the family suggested that we stopped giving gifts at Christmas as the family was becoming bigger and bigger. What a relief that was!
For others who have lost their loved ones, Christmas season can be a painful trigger of memories of their deceased. These people can become depressed and lonely because of the Christmas expectations to have fun with one’s family and friends. On the other hand, for some other people, it is not that they are re-grieving over the death of someone they love. They simply dread the expectations of socializing with family and friends that Christmas brings. They feel anxious because they do not feel like they want to socialize and be pressured into attending those festive social gatherings.
Others’ anxiety, depression and unhappiness are simply biological. In the month of December, it gets dark early and a depressing feeling can easily cripple in, especially for those people who have been moving in and out of depression for a long time.
I say “biological” because studies conducted by researchers from the university of Toronto and the medical university of Vienna show that the serotonin levels (serotonin is the hormone thought to be responsible for human happiness and well-being) are lower around the brain cells during the winter months than in the summer months, which then explains why some people feel miserable during the winter.