Comes Christmas and with it, family dinners, business, colored lights, the gaudy ornaments, gifts, carols everywhere and religious traditions with their modern secular imitations. Who can not like it?
Well, if all of the above repels you just imagining it, or if instead of joy it produces deep sadness and melancholy, you are not alone. In the latter case, it is possible even to get the holiday blues , or the ‘Christmas Blues’
What exactly is it and what are its causes?
We would have to categorize it as a syndrome , since most diagnostic manuals in psychiatric practice do not include it. This does not mean that it does not exist, and there are several psychologists and psychiatrists who take it into consideration either as a separate entity or as a form of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD).
Be that as it may, it would be a condition with symptoms very similar to those of depressive disorder , but mainly limited to the Christmas season, recurring and whose trigger is Christmas itself or circumstances related to it.
Thus, we could distinguish signs such as low mood , lack of energy, irritation, discomfort, lack of interest in doing activities, stress, anxiety and even sleep disorders. It should also be mentioned that people who have suffered from depressive disorders are especially prone to suffer from this syndrome, or to suffer worsening of their disorders at this time of year.
What are your causes?
The reasons why Christmas can cause these states in people are very varied. Perhaps one of the most frequent is the absence of loved ones, which becomes especially striking on dates when it is tradition to meet with family and friends.
Likewise, and although there are no deaths involved, the feeling of distancing from people with whom we have had a conflict can also be very painful at this time.
On the other hand, the longing for times past, in which perhaps Christmas was particularly happy, can be intensified by the contrast with a more adult reality, in which perhaps many of the elements that made Christmas so beautiful are missing. and memorable in those times. This may be the case for many older people who suffer from loneliness .
On the other hand, there are also those who feel pressure and stress due to having to fulfill commitments that they do not feel like or seeing people they may not want to see, as well as the feeling of automatically fulfilling a series of rituals by tradition and the ‘obligation’ to be happy and cheerful or at least to have to appear so.
Linked to this is the media image that ‘everyone is happy’ at Christmas, which can make someone who isn’t feel displaced, and consumerism and advertising sharper than at any time of year can become difficult to deal with. cope with the current economic situation.
How to avoid Christmas depression?
Some of these causes simply cannot be changed, but you can try to deal with them in the healthiest way possible. For example, if what causes us this discomfort is the absence of a loved one, it can help to take refuge in those who are by our side to remember that person with affection and in a positive way. In the same way, if the reason is a conflict with another person, it can be beneficial to try to spend time and distract ourselves with the people with whom we have good relationships.
In Spain, some autonomous communities have programs in place to prevent this syndrome, in which, for example, activities are organized to prevent the elderly from spending the holidays alone; as well as various non-profit organizations develop similar initiatives for all ages.
On the other hand, the stress of social commitments can be alleviated by trying to say no to those we do not want in a reasoned way and explaining the reasons to the rest of the people involved, or offering alternatives to the specific rituals of each meeting.
Also, it can help other people to accept that maybe they do not like Christmas and that there is nothing wrong with it , despite the prevailing image, and look for alternatives to have as little trouble as possible, such as small meetings with friends instead. of the relatives.
Be that as it may, it is important that if the symptoms cause us real discomfort, or if they are a worsening of other previous psychiatric disorders, we are not afraid to seek help and consult a professional.