Christmas and depression

Christmas is a time of the year, when depression is likely to occur. Some authorities report that the rate of suicide is highest around this time of the year. So why would this be, when Christmas is supposed to be such a wonderful time? When we gain an understanding of why things occur in life, we create the possibility of change and those events no longer have power or influence over us.

There can be little doubt that the time of year and the expectations we place on our selves and on others, initiate a scenario where we are in danger of believing that we cannot live up to the expectations we have created. Often, significant anniversaries, such as Christmas, trigger memories of major events that have occurred in life, such as the death of loved ones, divorce, or a breakdown on relationships. Some people may become depressed because of separation from family or friends or through the experience of major illness. It can be especially difficult to cope when everyone else appears to be joyous. We do not have to be depressed, under such circumstances, to become insular and experience difficulty in reaching out to others.

Holiday anxiety

Holidays can be stressful at any time, but Christmas seems to be that occasion where stress takes that extra step and some people can slip into a depressed mood, because this is the time of year, where extra expectations are experienced. Many among us, have a type of performance anxiety. We believe that we are expected to ‘perform’ through the giving of gifts, which in today’s society, may be measured for worthiness, through price. At times of economic hardship, the cost of Christmas places an extra burden and many people do not cope.

Frustration also builds through the attendance of the continuous partying. We either, attend every invitation and become overwhelmed, or overtired which then leads to an inability to cope emotionally, or we do not accept any invitation and become even more insulated, both physically and emotionally. For those of us who have limited resources, anger can present with the apparent over-commercialisation of the season. We are constantly ordered, through media to buy now, and threatened with the advice that ‘time is running out’ or made to feel inadequate if we do not purchase this newest wonder of the universe. Feelings of inadequacy feed on the frustration of not being in a better financial position and anger occurs. When anger comes, it is not always directed at the source of our frustration, which we believe to be the advertising, but instead is often directed at diverse targets, including family, friends, or even strangers.

Christmas and frustration

We believe the source of our frustration is the advertising, the Christmas season, or the pressure we feel, however, these things are only the triggers of our frustration or anger, the real reason is much deeper and ultimately comes down to how we fell about our self. Anger is often a psychological answer to emotional pain. This could develop into a much deeper discussion, but suffice it to say that we often times experience anger because we are frustrated (perhaps we have a low tolerance to frustration) of we have a perception that the world needs to be ordered the way we want. Some would call this an irrational perception of reality. Sometimes, when we have no real outlet for our anger, we can become depressed. Angry people are not happy people. Frustrated people are not happy people. People who feel inadequate, are, generally, not happy people and people who believe that they are being manipulated against their will, are not happy people. All of these feelings and events come together in significant proportions at Christmas time.

How do we prevent depression at Christmas?

We need to avoid the victim mentality, where we believe that everything happens to us, rather than being involved in events where we experience at least some control. So my advice would be to create those situations where you are able to exercise control through deliberate choice.
Set boundaries around your expectations of yourself, of others, the money you are willing to spend and the number of social gatherings that you are willing to commit to.
Don’t accept the media’s version of Christmas. Create your own version.

Christmas obligations

If you feel obliged or simply want to give Christmas gifts, create your own. Personally, I would treasure a handmade gift that was created with forethought and effort, especially for me. Really, in this electronic age, I would value a hand-written card or letter telling me all about those personal events, hopes and wishes from the year almost gone and the hopes for the future, as much as anything else. A hand written Christmas note provides a touch of the past with all of its inherent values and structure. The past may be derided as a time that was slow by comparison, but people were touched by others in a much more personal way.

Reach out to those who have nothing. Many people have no one in their life at any time. No home, no family, few friends, and certainly no Christmas dinner. The Salvation Army or any number of organisations would no doubt welcome an extra pair of hands to help the homeless on this special day. Imagine the feeling of giving to someone who has nothing. Imagine the feeling of gratitude that you create through making such a gesture. Of course, giving in this manner takes courage, and commitment and many of us have little of either and so this gift is even greater when it is followed through.

Christmas tradition

I believe that tradition is one of the greatest gifts that we can bestow on future generations and for this reason alone, I think that attendance of a Christmas religious service could be beneficial. As a society, we appear to have misplaced our allegiance to organised religions, and perhaps with good reason, however, this is the time when we are reminded through ritual and stories, of those times and even of the fables from our past, that contribute to the establishment of our roots and grounding in society. In the publication “Look Twice At The River” I stated that without fable, without story telling and without acknowledgment of our past, we become lost and disconnected from our courage to face the future. Courage and truth within society make our legends come alive for our children and this allows them to conceive their own convictions that in turn, create a pioneering spirit for future generations to model.

Look Twice At The River

If you would like a free copy of “Look Twice At The River” leave you details on this site, and access to a PDF will be yours.

Even with the tools to deal with depression or feeling lost at this time of the year, some of us, will still experience times where we feel low. My best advice here would be to seek out someone who is willing to listen to your frustrations and fears, in an empathetic way. Seek assistance from a counsellor. If you cannot afford a counsellor, or have no wish to speak, face to face, make a phone call to one of the many telephone services that are available today.

In Australia, Lifeline’s telephone number is 13 11 14
My contact details are on this page. Together we can change your destiny

Author's Bio: 

John A Allan is a Counsellor, certified Life Coach and published author. His latest bokk, available on Amazon Kindle, called Spirit & The Theory Of Radiant Consciousness, forms the basis of his workshops dealing with reality and our perception of it