Seasonal Affective Disorder

How to Survive the Holiday Blues

December 9, 2018


If you find yourself more sad around the holiday season, you’re not alone. This time of year can be challenging for anyone with added stress, crowds, travel, cold weather, and lack of sunshine. The best way to tackle the annual holiday blues, is to set realistic expectations proactively to help you cope before you become overwhelmed. What’s more, seeing everyone around you full of jolly cheer, celebrating, can feel very isolated and lonely as you’re lost in despair.

First, though, it’s important to be sure you’re not dealing with something more than Holiday Blues, or Seasonal Depression. It can be challenging to distinguish between normal stress from this busy season and actual depression. If you are exhibit 5 or more depressive symptoms for the majority of your day for several weeks, you may be dealing with a major depressive disorder and should seek more intense support and therapies to help treat it. Whether you find a combination of medication and talk therapy, or alternative therapies like Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation, there are ways to help balance your brain and deal with these feelings.

Here are some options to be proactive about treating any depression:

Share Your Feelings

girl talking & sharing feelings with friend

With everyone so busy this time of year, it can harder for your friends and loved ones to notice you are not yourself. Remind yourself this is not due to them not caring about you. May depressed individuals feel they are a burden to those around them. It’s important to communicate with those around you how you are feeling so they can be aware and help you in whatever ways they are able. You’ll likely realize after sharing that they do care and don’t see you are a burden.

Meet with a Therapist

girl sitting on therapist's couch

While friends and family can be a shoulder to lean on, or support system to help you manage shared responsibilities, you may need more trained professionals to help you cope. There is nothing to be ashamed of for seeking professional help, and even mentally healthy individuals regularly seek support from therapists.

If you don’t have immediate access to a therapist but are in need of immediate support, call the National Suicide Prevention Line (1-800-273-8255). They can provide confidential support and resources to help you get through the darkest moments. If you prefer texting to talking you can try the Crisis Text Line by texting 741741.

It’s common in depression to feel like there is no solution that will make you feel better. When that feeling becomes overwhelming many feel they have no option but to end the burden on themselves and others from their suffering.  Having a trained professional walk you through those moments can be life-saving.

Find Support Groups

girl talking to therapy support group

Sometimes our friends and families are the source of our suffering, or you may lack access to a therapist due to lack of insurance or funds. In those cases finding a support group can be a helpful option to finding support when you are in need. Sharing with strangers going through similar issues can help relieve the isolation often felt in depression. Research support groups in your are where you can share openly with others about your struggle and journey. You’ll find relief in sharing and comfort in knowing you are not alone in these feelings.

Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS)

girl receiving TMS therapy
Image courtesy of MedCity News

This alternative therapy is FDA approved to treat depression among other mental health issues. It’s especially useful for individuals who do not respond to first line treatment of medications. The therapy emits short magnetic pulses to targeted areas of the brain to help reorganize neural pathways associated with mood and depression. While is sounds complicated, the actual experience of receiving TMS is simple and non-invasive.

Light Therapy

girl sitting in front on light therapy box in the morning
Image courtesy of

Often know as “winter blues” or seasonal depression, many individuals experience extra sadness during the cold dark winter months. If you feel this may be contributing to your mood, you may want to explore Light or Phototherapy. During treatment you’ll stay in front of a special light box that mimics natural sunlight, within the first hour of waking.

Supporting Others

girl holding other person's hands in support

Whether you are experiencing symptoms depression or feel someone you know is, there may be others around you that you may not realize be suffering. Try to find time to reach out to anyone you haven’t touched base with in awhile and check in with them, especially if they have a history of issues. The best gift you can give this holiday season is your attention, time and love to those you care about. And please be sure to contact the National Suicide Hotline if you’re concerned about anyone. Even if your wrong, at least they will know that you care, and you could be saving their life!

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