Understanding Holiday Depression

While the holiday season often brings excitement, joy and a time to relax with friends and family for many people, it can also lead to mood swings and feelings of depression for others. From the stress and fatigue of last-minute shopping to the anxiety of extended family visits, the holiday season presents a number of different challenges.

“A lot of times, although we enjoy our family and love them, they can be stressful and financial burdens of making sure everybody gets a Christmas gift and the meals, there are several things that contribute to it,” said Dori Haddock, program director at the CHI St. Vincent Addiction Recovery Program.

Holiday depression can affect people of all ages and backgrounds, but it doesn’t always look the same. While it’s often thought of as prolonged feelings of sadness, depression can present with various symptoms and side effects.

“Depression looks different in every person,” Haddock said. “It can be lack of energy. Some people stop eating and other people overeat. Irritability is a big one of them. It’s kind of like a cloak for whatever is going on. Anger is a cloak for your secondary emotion.”

Patients suffering from holiday depression often ignore or fail to identify the symptoms, so it’s important to recognize and understand the signs, particularly during seasons of increased stress and anxiety.

“90 percent of the time somebody else is going to notice it before you do,” said Haddock. “So, if a family member comes to you and says that “you have not been yourself, you just really seem like you’re down,” the best thing to do is go see a mental health provider.”