Holidays can be a stressful time for all of us. But for some, the stress and anxiety can be too severe. We talked with Dr. Craig Barker with UMC who explains Holiday Depression and what we can do to face it.
Dr. Craig Barker starts with, “Holiday Depression is ugly. We actually see it all the time, it gets worse around the time change when the days get shorter, the weather isn’t as nice, it’s rainy, gloomy, there’s all these things coming up, school parties, work parties, and they put pressure on themselves, for family coming into town or going out of town.”
Some people look at the holidays and they are not what we remember when we were little or have seen in the movies. Barker says,”we have a lot of unrealistic expectations because people are remembering selectively the Christmas’s from when they were five and in their mind is a beautiful moment and it’s impossible.”
Burning the candle at both ends takes a toll but there are signs you are suffering from Holiday Depression. Dr. Barker explains, people are sad they are emotionally tired, nothing left, and that can roll over into the physical. They will be sleepy have difficulty waking up or concentrating. Hard to keep their mind on a particular task, very frustrated, short tempered. They start feeling hopeless. When it gets really bad they look at hurting themselves, running away from family, or the self treat, and they look for alcohol or drugs, something to make them relax. We would much rather see them in the office than see them try to self treat because it typically doesn’t go well.”
But there are some healthy ways to alleviate some of the stress. Dr Barker says, “focus on the now, set realistic expectations, and focus on making memories now because your kids need memories now. Other things people can do is really being intentional on being active taking charge of what you’re going to do each day, set a realistic list, and exercise really helps.” But remember you are not alone. “Seek friends, find friends that are going to build you up, get rid of the friends that bring you down. Spiritual groups, churches, friend groups, anybody that you can be around that is going to lift you up and make you focus on what you are doing now.”
Dr. Barker also wanted to mention that considering taking your own life is a permanent solution to a temporary problem. There are so many ways to come out from under the depression. Depression is much more accepted than it used to be, so please seek help.