When you are depressed, the warmth of the holidays leaves you feeling left out in the cold. By the time New Year’s Day comes around, the disengagement may be too much to bear. Statistics show that there is a sharp uptick in suicide rates after the New Year.
What Accounts for This Change?
Mental health experts believe that depression, in one form or another, accounts for this increase in suicides right after the New Year. They point to these factors as possible triggers:
- Unrealistic expectations of family dynamics during the holidays
- A sense of not being able to fit in or enjoy the season
- Sensory overload brought on by holiday music, lights, & crowds
- The pervasive use of alcohol (a depressant) during the holidays
- Anti-climax of returning to ordinary life
If You Suffer from Depression, You Are At Risk
When you are depressed, you may feel that the holiday spirit has passed you by. Here are a few tips to help you ward off depression and avoid the New Year let-down.
Take care of yourself. If you are under treatment, don’t neglect your medication. Eat well, try to keep to your regular sleep schedule, and take care with your personal grooming. Remember that alcohol is a depressant, so steer clear of it at holiday gatherings.
Keep holiday expectations modest. Scale back on spending, entertaining, decorating, and social functions. Trying to do too much increases stress and anxiety.
Be realistic about yourself and your family. Don’t expect dysfunctional family relationships to change just because it’s Christmas.
Give yourself permission to say “no”. When holiday activities become overwhelming, it’s okay to opt out. Prepare an excuse ahead of time, so you won’t feel on the spot if you need to leave.
Change things up. Make a new holiday tradition or take a trip. Volunteer at a church or the Salvation Army. Spend time with people you are comfortable with.
Practice gratitude. Make this a daily mindfulness exercise. It will help you to keep perspective and remain realistic in your expectations.
Get help. Depression is a serious mental disorder, so don’t take it lightly. Reach out to a counselor, support group, or suicide helpline if you start to be filled with dark thoughts.
Your Coast to Coast Resource for Depression Help
Depression and other co-occurring disorders can take away your joy of living and lead to serious consequences like social isolation and suicide, especially during the holidays. Seeking treatment and sticking with it can help you want to live again. Coast to Coast Recovery Centers are dedicated to helping you find the right treatment the first time. Our goal is to erase the stigma that is attached to mental illness and provide proactive, constructive ways to manage your condition. Before you go too far down the joyless road of depression or co-occurring addiction, call 800-210-8229 and let one of our interventionists walk you through your possibilities for treatment and recovery.