Why Holidays Can Be So Depressing
The holidays can be depressing for a lot of people, even those who don’t struggle with mental challenges such as drug addiction, alcoholism, anxiety or depression. Some have family or friends they don’t click with and only see during the holiday season. Not everyone clicks with everyone. That’s a simple fact.
Being around people who you have nothing in common with or who irritate you can raise anxiety or increase depression. That said, most of these people make it through the holidays and often have a very nice time despite being around some folks they would have preferred to have avoided.
Irritants become triggers
For a person struggling with a diagnosed mental disorder, these “irritants” can turn into triggers, which can induce an increased severity of symptoms. The person diagnosed with depression may become further depressed. Those with anxiety may become more anxious. Someone suffering from addiction may consume more of the substances they are addicted to. A person in early recovery from addiction, and even some in recovery for great lengths of time, may relapse.
But why are holidays such triggers for many with diagnosed mental disorders? What it is about these times of year, in particular Thanksgiving and Christmas through New Year’s?
For those suffering from alcoholism, it may seem obvious – people tend to consume more during these times. A person with alcoholism has little or no control over the amount they consume. If it is readily available at a holiday party, they will consume more. This usually turns into a disaster for the alcoholic and all around them.
Control is a problem
But what about those addicted to drugs? Traditionally family holiday parties are not littered with drugs so where is the temptation for that suffering person? The answer is they have a disease. Like the alcoholic, a person addicted to drugs has little or no control over the amount of drugs they consume.
Even though drugs may not be readily available at a holiday party, these individuals have their own supply somewhere – and rest assured they will consume it, family party or not. Like the alcoholic, this can quickly turn the holiday party into a disaster for everyone.
Those struggling with depression or anxiety may have little or no desire to consume alcohol, drugs or anything of that nature. These can be extraordinarily difficult times for these people, especially if they are not taking medication for their condition. The person addicted to alcohol or drugs is “medicating” themselves. They can numb out that feeling of being uncomfortable with the substances they use. These people may not even realize where they were until the next day when they face the consequences and consume more substances to numb out again. For those struggling with depression and anxiety and not taking medication, there is no relief – healthy or otherwise.
Our best advice for those struggling with diagnosed depression or anxiety during the holiday season is to take the medications the doctor has prescribed or get the prescribed medication as quickly as possible. This can help considerably.
If the person is attending counseling, we recommend they continue to do so throughout the holidays as their counselor’s schedule permits. For those in active addiction to drugs and or alcohol, we urge them to seek help as soon as possible as opposed to risking their safety and the safety of those around them by attempting to go through the holiday season using drugs of alcohol.