How to Get a Handle on Your Holiday Depression

As someone who has depression, which gets significantly worse during the holidays, I basically want to hole up in my apartment between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day and skip all that jolly crap. Unfortunately, that’s not an option, so I spoke with several mental health professionals about why the holidays can be especially rough for people, and what we can do to cope.

For starters, we are told repeatedly — even in song — the holidays are “the most wonderful time of the year.” We see impossibly happy people in Hallmark movies and ads featuring smiling friends and families, and if what we’re feeling doesn’t match up to that, it makes us feel worse. And the days are short and dark.

“While the holidays can be a wonderfully festive time, for those who are sad or depressed, they can also be more difficult as they look around and see others who are happy and received messages about how they should be happy but may just not be feeling that way themselves,” Dr. Jephtha Tausig, a New York City-based clinical psychologist, tells SheKnows. “This can lead to anxiety and more depression.”

Nele Van Cauteren, a mental health and mindfulness expert, also tells SheKnows that when you’re depressed, you might be harsher toward yourself, thinking you will never be happy or getting stuck in comparison and feeling like a loser.

The holidays also come at the end of the year, when we’re reflecting on what we have and haven’t been able to achieve, Kinsey McManus, director of client services at the National Alliance on Mental Illness, NYC Metro tells SheKnows.

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