Why depression happens during the holiday season

Have you ever felt your mood gradually transition into sadness around the time when Thanksgiving is just right around the corner? The mood can range from feeling more sluggish than usual to persistent depression.

In my opinion, it all boils down to one word – Pressure. Why? Here are some examples:

Grieving a loss

For obvious reasons, grieving can worsen during the holidays. It tends to be all the more difficult when it’s the first holiday season without the person you love. Christmas is commonly associated with joy but when you’ve lost someone who was a significant part of your life, the pressure of feeling joyful when you are not can get to you.

Social isolation

For some people who can’t be with their families, lack social support, or have little to no access to socializing, the holiday season can be lonely. Thanksgiving and Christmas in western culture mean family and togetherness. Once again, it’s about the pressure of having “the Christmas spirit” that only reminds them of what and who they don’t have.

Financial Insecurity

The idea of believing in Santa Claus, a Christmas miracle, and spreading good cheer is idealistic but.. let’s be honest here … Christmastime in the United States has sadly become a major shopping holiday. It’s all about the getting, giving, wrapping, and unwrapping of Christmas presents. Gift exchange is a staple of the American holiday tradition. You can’t get away from it. It’s in the movies, packed toy stores, Black Friday deals, and horrible traffic just going to the mall, all of which are reminders of how expensive Christmas can be. Sure, there are many who say they are skipping their gift-giving this year, but the pressure is still there. You want to buy your mom a present but can’t afford it. It’s such a bummer. It’s especially difficult for parents of little children who expect to get presents from Santa. It’s no small wonder that Americans undergoing financial distress cringe the closer we get to the month of December.

The pressure to be cheerful and happy. The pressure to be surrounded by family and friends. The pressure to spend money you don’t have in order to make people happy. It takes a toll on our mental health when we can’t measure up to societal standards. Some call this the “Holiday Blues.” If you are feeling discouraged, anxious, and lonely this holiday season, please know that you are never ever alone. There are people standing by just to hear your voice and know that you are okay. Will you contact them today?

If you just need someone to talk to: Text 741741 anytime day or night.

Having a mental health crisis? These are trained counselors that can help you, or get you help: Call or text 988 anytime day or night.

sad woman outside in the snow


Kerr, M (2010). Healthline, https://www.healthline.com/health/depression/holidays

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, https://www.samhsa.gov/find-help/988.

Published by Micaela Christina

A gen-xer who knows a thing or two about the hard knocks of life.

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