Many people experience depression at Christmas. Feeling depressed during the holidays is common for those who have lost a loved one during the year. Such a loss is keenly felt the first Christmas and for several years afterward. The fact that a loved one is not there cannot be ignored. Nor should it be. Allow sadness and tears to come. Each time you do so, you’re working through your grief further. Don’t dwell only on your loss, however. It’s OK to have happy, fun times during the holidays even though your loved one isn’t there.
Christmas depression is also common in dysfunctional families. Those who grew up in a home in which the holidays were chaotic may have a difficult time at Christmas until they resolve their childhood issues. It’s as though Christmas triggers an “anniversary reaction” to all the painful memories. To overcome this type of Christmas depression it’s important to face the inner pain. The root of the problem in dysfunctional families is often spiritual, so a renewal of faith and connection with a loving church group will help us grow beyond these issues.
Depression at Christmas is also common in seemingly ideal families. When this is true depression may be due to unrealistic expectations. Women often feel enormous responsibility to plan a PERFECT holiday for everyone else. We need to lower our expectations and accept the fact that no occasion is perfect. We need to involve the whole family in the plans and chores. We need to do less so we can enjoy the holidays more. Remembering the “reason for the season” with participation in church celebrations will also help us let go of our worry and fretting.
Anyone with serious signs of depression such as difficulty sleeping, suicidal thoughts, and little energy, should seek professional counseling. Brief counseling and medication can ease painful symptoms enabling you to enjoy this joyful season.
“He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.” Psalm 147:3