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Depression During the Holidays

December is a time of year that many individuals look forward to because of the holidays, but it is also a time of year with increased risk for depression. Whether it is celebrating traditions, being around family and friends, or shorter work weeks – for the most part people enjoy this month. While for many this time of season is considered festive, fun and cheerful, for others it can also be anxiety-provoking, depressing and emotionally exhausting.

Courtesy of Multicare.orgHolidays often equate to engaging in family-oriented gatherings, which depending on family dynamics, can result in increased anxiety for some individuals. Worrying about mom’s approval of a new boyfriend/girlfriend, wondering whether dad will continue to express his disappointment in your career choice, or stressing about your sibling(s) capability to understand how much help you need with caring for your parents, are a few examples of situations that can provoke anxiety thereby causing a person to dread the holiday season.

This time of year can also be depressing for individuals who lack familial support, are not involved in a significant relationship or are going through a life-hardship that prevents them from celebrating the season as they normally would. And while they may choose to not celebrate, commercial advertisements and/or innocent questions like, “What are you doing for the holiday?” or “Have you finished shopping yet?” etc., can serve as a reminder of what they don’t have thus causing a negative association with the holiday.

Last but not least, emotional exhaustion is a common feeling many individuals experience during this time of year. Sometimes the mere thought of all the planning, traveling and socializing a person will have to do to prepare is enough to bring about a cloud of gloom. In other cases, memory of last year’s disorder, dysfunction or drama can serve as a blockade to feeling cheerful about the holiday.

With all of that said, it is important to be aware of your feelings during this time of year and to not let it get the best of your ability to enjoy it or to function. Talking with friends and family you trust and/or with a therapist about your feelings can help you get to the bottom of what you are experiencing and learn ways to resolve it.

Does the holiday season increase your anxiety or make you depressed?  How do you deal with it?  Please share your thoughts below.

Written by Christine Valentin

Christine M. Valentin, LCSW is a skilled Geriatric clinical social worker, with over six years of experience working with older adults. Prior to focusing on family caregivers, she worked as an Elder abuse specialist counseling individuals who were victims of physical, psychological and/or financial abuse. She also assisted clients on how to obtain financial assistance and navigate the legal system. You can view other works of Christine by visiting her website at

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