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How to Recognize and Cope with Holiday Depression


The Holiday Season can be a wonderful time of year. We dedicate time to family, friends, charity, and celebration. For many of us, though, putting on a happy face during this time of year can be difficult. Holiday depression syndrome is a very real issue that affects many of us. It can be hard for other people to understand, especially when the season calls for a celebration. Learning how to deal with holiday and post-Christmas depression starts with recognizing its symptoms and how it can affect us.

Depression During the Holidays

The symptoms of holiday depression will vary from person to person, but there are a number of things common to people who suffer from depression around the holidays. These symptoms can include fatigue. With so much going on during this time of year, it can be overwhelming, leaving people with holiday sadness feeling like they don’t have the energy to do it all. Tension and frustration are additional symptoms. Holiday depression can express itself in these ways as the stress of the holidays takes its toll.

A common way for depression during the holidays to manifest itself is through loneliness. The holidays can shine a painful light on already existing feelings of isolation, making them even more pronounced. Thus, holiday sadness is common among those who feel depressed during other times of the year.

How Holiday Depression is Different

Holiday depression syndrome and post-Christmas depression are different from clinical depression mainly in they are relatively temporary. The symptoms may return each year during the holiday season, but they then tend to dissipate as the season passes. Clinical depression is more persistent and something more likely to require professional assistance. That is not to say, however, that holiday depression should not be taken seriously. It most certainly should, and professional help is a practical option.

Holiday depression statistics

If there is a silver lining to holidays and depression, aside from the fact that holiday depression typically passes when the season ends, it is that people who feel depressed around the holidays are not alone. In fact, nearly half of women and a third of men surveyed by the American Psychological Association feel increased stress during the holiday season.

Why Do People Suffer from Depression Around the Holidays?

If holiday depression is so common, why does it happen? In other words, what are the primary reasons behind feeling depressed during the holiday season? There are a number of contributing factors, but some of the more common reasons people suffer from holiday depression include social isolation. The holidays are about family and friends and getting together.

For those of us with few close relationships or people who are far away and unable to get together, the resulting isolation can be especially acute during the time of year when we feel like we are supposed to be with others. For those who have lost loved ones, the holidays make feelings of isolation even stronger. It is a time of year that makes us miss our lost loved ones even more.

Other factors behind holiday depression can include stress, particularly financial stress, social anxiety, and other underlying issues. This is why seeking help for holiday depression can be especially beneficial. It can help uncover and resolve larger issues that contribute to holiday depression.

How to Cope with Depression around the Holidays

There are a number of ways to cope with holiday depression. While they might not erase the feelings of sadness or anxiety, they can help mitigate them and make the season feel more positive.

Get Involved

Volunteering is a great way to combat the isolation that many people feel during the holidays. The psychological benefits of helping others and socializing with others are tremendous.


The weather during the holiday season can keep us cooped up and inactive, which can exacerbate feelings of depression. By exercising at home, at the gym, or better yet, outside, we can take advantage of the many benefits of exercise.

Eat Well

It can be a real challenge during the holidays, but making it a point to eat healthy foods, like plenty of leafy greens, can help combat the toll that rich holiday foods can take on our bodies.


The holiday season can mean doing a lot more, which can be draining. Getting plenty of sleep can help us recharge and feel more ready to take on all the activities that come up during the holidays.

Talk with Someone

If the holidays and depression take a toll on you, we can help. Speaking with a trained expert can help you find ways to cope. Contact us today!