If you’re struggling with symptoms of depression, you may find that they get considerably more difficult to manage around the holidays. While everyone around you is feeling the holiday cheer, you may begin to feel even more isolated and may find yourself unable to even complete daily self-care tasks, such as showering and brushing your teeth. For some individuals suffering from depression, performance at work or school may also begin to suffer and bring on excessive drinking. If your depression seems to worsen during the holiday season, rest assured that you are not alone. It is not at all uncommon to experience holiday depression or holiday stress.
What is Depression?
It is important to understand that there is a significant difference between bouts of sadness and clinical depression. Sadness is usually transitory and a reaction to external events. Depression is a medical illness that persists and recurs. Individuals suffering from clinical depression may lose the ability to enjoy life and start experiencing difficulty functioning. Depression requires medical intervention to prevent feelings of apathy, hopelessness, suicidal ideation, and functional impairment.
Signs of Holiday Depression
The holidays are a time when many of us feel extra pressure to be happy and festive.
But for some, the holiday season can be a trigger for depression.
If you’re struggling with holiday depression, here are some signs to look out for:
1. Feeling hopeless, worthless or helpless – finding yourself feeling down about the future or your place in the world?
2. Low energy or trouble sleeping – Not being able to muster up enough energy to get through the day or having difficulty falling asleep at night can both be symptoms of depression.
3. Withdrawing from friends and family – The holidays are typically a time when we gather with loved ones, but if you’re depressed you may start withdrawing from social activities and isolating yourself more than usual.
4. Thoughts of harming yourself – suicidal thoughts are not uncommon among those suffering from depression
Why are People More Susceptible to Depression During the Holiday Season?
It can feel especially frustrating, overwhelming, and isolating to struggle with mental illness during the winter holidays. Holidays bring a myriad of added social obligations. It may be uncomfortable to explain how come you are feeling joyless during this time, not to mention nearly impossible to get out of the house and engage socially.
Major depressive disorder also often worsens during the winter time because of a significant lack of Vitamin D and reduced access to sunlight. The chilly weather often leads to less outdoor time. The change of the seasons brings about shorter days and less opportunity to be productive. Vitamin D and sunlight are critical to maintaining a balanced mood. Many individuals who experience the holiday blues are diagnosed with Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). SAD can be treated with traditional antidepressants, natural sunlight, or an indoor sun lamp. Considering more frequent therapy sessions or additional augmentation strategies (ketamine, transcranial magnetic stimulation, alternative therapies) if you have an exacerbation of seasonal depression during the winter months may be necessary.
The winter holidays are often a stressful and emotionally loaded season. Many individuals spend time with family, reminisce about childhood memories, and begin to consider goals for the new year. These emotionally charged experiences unique to the holiday can be overwhelming and cause feelings of dread, despair, and disappointment. While severe depression may occur any time of year, the winter holiday season can be especially difficult for individuals who are feeling depressed.
How to Help a Loved One with Depression
It’s important to understand that depression is a real illness and cannot be overcome by willpower. Comments such as, “You have so much to be happy about” and “Snap out of it, we have a fun holiday party to attend!” may seem helpful, these comments serve to minimize the depression experience and cause increased feelings of being misunderstood, poor self-worth, and hopelessness. Remember, you wouldn’t tell a cancer patient to “snap out of it.” Instead of invalidating their illness try:
Spending Quality Time With Them
One of the best things you can do for someone suffering from holiday depression is to spend time with them. This can be difficult if you have a busy schedule, but try to make some time for them even if it’s just an hour or two each week.
If possible, do activities together that they enjoy and make sure to be supportive and understanding.
Many people experiencing depression or holiday stress can work with a mental health professional to manage their stress and negative feelings. Be sure to let your loved one know that you support therapeutic intervention. This can provide them with additional support and guidance during this difficult time.
Individuals suffering from holiday blues often isolate themselves because of their illness. Even if your loved one declines your invitations, be sure to continue to reach out, continue to invite them to holiday gatherings, and let them know they are loved and remembered.
Being Mindful That They Are Not Their Illness
Depression and mental illness dramatically impact a person’s personality. Remember that your loved one is still whom you know and love and that their illness is taking a toll on whom you remember them to be.
It’s important that those suffering from the holiday blues take care of themselves physically as well as emotionally.
Make sure they are eating healthy meals and getting enough exercise each day – both of these things will help boost their mood and energy levels.
Depression Treatment Options
Traditional treatments for depression or seasonal affective disorder, like talk therapy and medications, are prevalent and often require several weeks to become effective. Many patients suffering from severe depression may work with a psychiatrist for months or even years trying to establish an effective psychotropic medication regimen. Even when effective, these medications often cause intolerable side effects such as weight gain, sexual impairment, cognitive dulling, fatigue and sleep disturbance. Individuals may be suffering from a mental health crisis with suicidal thoughts or have even attempted suicide. In crises, the extended time frame needed for therapy and medications to address symptoms may not be a reasonable option.
TMS for Holiday Depression
Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) is a non-invasive treatment that uses magnetic fields to stimulate nerve cells in the brain.
TMS has been shown to be an effective treatment for major depressive disorder, and it may also be helpful for holiday depression.
IV Ketamine for Holiday Depression
Patients who have experienced acute depressive episodes have found stunning and rapid relief with IV Ketamine. Ketamine may provide immediate, dramatic results. Patients who have been treated with iv ketamine have been able to go from experiencing crippling thoughts of suicide requiring inpatient care to being able to manage their symptoms of depression in an outpatient setting.
What is Ketamine Therapy?
Ketamine is an anesthetic medication with proven life-saving impact for individuals suffering from depression. Many practitioners in the United States are currently providing cutting-edge Ketamine treatment to individuals seeking alternative treatment for depression.
Can I Rely on Ketamine as a treatment option for my depression?
It is well documented that Ketamine is exceptionally useful for treating acute symptoms of depression, other mental health conditions, and thoughts of suicide quickly and efficiently. Patients who do a series of six iv ketamine infusions often experience remission of symptoms. As depression is a chronic illness, ongoing treatment is always needed. It is important to accept that more severe, treatment-resistant cases of depression may require maintenance ketamine every several months.
Treat the Holiday Blues at Neuro Wellness Spa
At Neuro Wellness Spa, our individualized mental health treatment options support each patient’s unique needs and journey. We understand that dealing with mental health can be difficult and oftentimes feel like you’ve tried everything. That’s why at Neuro Wellness Spa we offer a variety of services designed to help you on your journey to wellness. From transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) to ketamine therapy, Spravato, and IV nutrition, we have the tools and resources to help you heal in your mind, body, and spirit. Call us today to schedule a consultation with a mental health professional.