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Christmas Cheer

How Do You Deal with Depression Around Christmas? 163

Posted by Cliff
from the improving-emotional-fortitude dept.
SleepyHappyDoc asks: "Lots of people around the world seem to experience more sadness and depression around the holiday season, than in other times of the year. There could be any number of reasons why this is, but my question is: how do you deal with it? Have you managed to find any coping strategies or activities that make things feel less bleak?"
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How Do You Deal with Depression Around Christmas?

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  • "James Oliver Huberty" and "SERENITY NOW!"
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 27, 2005 @07:02AM (#14343879)
    1) Run a couple miles (or more if you can) every morning
    2) Eat chocolate (add in magnesium food supplements too, if you like)
    3) Use a full-white-spectrum lamp
    • Or just get a girlfriend for god's sake!
      • by karnal (22275) on Tuesday December 27, 2005 @01:39PM (#14345844)
        You really don't realize how much that can backfire, do you? :)

        Of course, I'm married and wouldn't trade it for the world, but I've had years of relationships that went down the tubes because the people I was seeing at the time weren't right for me permanently. And that little subtlety can make you more depressed than anything around this time of year.
    • I get really, really irrititable if I don't get enough exercise. Which tends to happen at Christmas because I have the choice of either watching my mother and sister shop or sitting around the house. If you've got a real depression disorder then see a doctor, but if you just feel frustrated and irritable then get some exercise. I don't mean in a gym. Go into the big blue room.
    • The "exercise" advice is first-grade bullshit. It may helps the guy a bit sad because he broke with his gf the week before, but it will NOT help somebody with a real depression. It may even worsen the situation.

      When you start to have real depression syndromes, stop looking for grand-ma advices on the web and see a "modern" MD (and not one of the old school for who depression is nothing serious). Drugs can be the only way out, and taking drugs for a while does not mean you will be under prozac for the rest

    • 1. Running around in the pitch black at 5am in the freezing cold and rain isn't going to make you any happier.

      2. Comfort eating is NEVER the answer.
  • SAD bad or mad (Score:5, Informative)

    by FidelCatsro (861135) * <fidelcatsro.gmail@com> on Tuesday December 27, 2005 @07:12AM (#14343906) Journal
    First off , if you are suffering from any kind of depression that is seriously affecting your day to day life then see a doctor . There is no point suffering in silence especially around this time of year when it can be amplified by many many things.

    A depression around winter time in the northern hemisphere can be caused by a few things :

    1: Seasonal affective disorder .this is caused by a chemical imbalance due to the lack of daylight . A high powered solar lamp can help you here will alleviate many many symptoms . Again see a doctor , if you can not see a doctor due to area or if you are in the USA for example (due to your medical insurance not covering this) then have a look for some local or online support groups .There will be people out there who can advise you on things that really help remove the strain .

    If you suffer from a condition such as Bipolar affective disorder then chances are you will also suffer from Seasonal affective disorder , just keep taking the Medication and supplement it with some time by a solar lamp (Again see your doctor)

    2: past trauma/upseting events/Loss of a loved one etc. : Any upsetting event around this time of year can be amplified due to the fact that most people appear to be having a good time . Feeling alone and miserable at a time when everyone around you is so happy really does tend to make things feel a whole lot worse .
    Talk to people about , find a support group , anonymous if you need to if you can then surround yourself with family and friends, but do not suffer in silence . Just accepting the Depression can be catastrophic for your health.There are many people out there who will be more than happy to help.
    Your doctor will be able to point you in the right direction , that is what they are there for

    3:Mental illness : If you suffer from a mental illness and feel that symptoms are worsening around this time of year then immediately talk to your doctor . Chances are they will supplement your medication or find some other way to help you . ...
    It is important that you speak to someone and do not feel silly about it if you have to go to a doctor . You are not wasting there time and depression can be a serious illness , but there are many many remedies which can really help. Do not suffer in silence.(sorry to repeat myself)

    This is by no means professional advice and may not even apply to you , but if you do feel any of it applies to you then see your doctor as soon as you can .
    • Re:SAD bad or mad (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Foggerty (680794) on Tuesday December 27, 2005 @08:07AM (#14344019)
      Had I the points, I'd mod you up.

      It took me a long time to accept that depression is in fact an illness, and not just me being the social reject I saw myself as. (The fact that I had (many) friends who were confused as fuck as to why I kept putting myself down never seemed to register ;-)

      I'm still having to remind myself that its an illness, that its something that's going to pass and that what I feel now about myself is NOT how the rest of world sees me. But with friends/family it is possible to get past this crap (and it is crap - its just that the subjective nature of depression makes it hard if not imppossible to realise this.)
      • Re:SAD bad or mad (Score:5, Insightful)

        by FidelCatsro (861135) * <fidelcatsro.gmail@com> on Tuesday December 27, 2005 @08:21AM (#14344053) Journal
        It can be a real vicious circle , if you feel worthless then you may feel you are wasting someone's time by asking for help as you may feel you are acting like a fool . Which is far from the case .
        The other problem is a perceived stigma attached to these things , and true enough there may be some but the stigma is a problem with the people who look down upon it , not the sufferer .
        Most people these days will recognise it is an actual illness and will help you or understand , depression is more common than one would think.
          SAD(seasonal affective disorder) affect around 2 in 100 people and regular depression affects around 1 in 10 of us regularly , Even conditions such as Bipolar disorder and sever unipolar depression is not uncommon (though far rarer ) , chances are you know someone with one or almost all of these conditions .
        If you know someone you think may be depressed then talk to them about it and offer a friendly ear , just be careful how you word it (you don't want to put them on a defensive ).
    • Re:SAD bad or mad (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Mr. Slippery (47854)

      1: Seasonal affective disorder .this is caused by a chemical imbalance due to the lack of daylight . A high powered solar lamp can help you here will alleviate many many symptoms . Again see a doctor

      The "depression is a chemical imbalance" theory [time.com] is not as rooted in research [intenex.net] as the drug peddlers would like you to beleive.

      My own experience: years ago I asked my doctor about SAD. I wasn't even asking her about treatment, just "do you think this is real, or just another trendy diagnosis-of-the-moment?" T

      • About three years ago this summer, I started receiving acupuncture. When winter rolled around, I asked my acupuncturist about seasonal depression. She gave me a "duh!" look and pointed out that animals are supposed to be less active in the winter. It is not a disease to feel less energetic this time of year! Of course there's "feeling less energetic", and there's "debilitating, crushing, want-to-slit-my-wrists depression". The later is certainly a serious problem requring less subtle intervention, though I

    • People get depressed around Christmas time because the reality of their financial situation become unavoidably obvious. I'd dare say that most people are overextended on their finances (credit cards, mortgages, auto loans, etc), and they avoid the reality of their situation until they are _forced_ to look at it critically. Ala, "How do I buy Mom and the kid's their presents?".

      It's the _only_ time of year that people are forced to face the financial music - which [we] American's are notoriously bad at doin
    • A: Sad, Bad, Mad
      Q: Who are the Strong Brothers [homestarrunner.com]?

      Not to make light of this discussion or anything... my girlfriend is taking medication for depression. It works mostly, but she's 1000 miles away from her friends and with family she doesn't get along with, so she's having a rough time. She's coming back tomorrow :)
      • I can understand where she is at , I am about 1000 Miles from my Long time friends and birth family . It is really tough and does not help any condition , I have my inlaws with me and my wife which helps a great deal as I am sure your GF has you and yours .
        Depression affects you even when you are cm's away from those you love
    • "A high powered solar lamp can help you here will alleviate many many symptoms."

      In fact, as compact flourescent bulbs are now available fairly cheap, just changing most of your lights to high output 20+W CF bulbs can make a difference. The difference between 'I can see well enough to read' and 'almost bright enough to grow tomatoes inside' is noticeable for me at least.

      "most people appear to be having a good time."

      Mmm. Appear. Heh. Frankly, I'm starting to have trouble finding anyone who doesnt actually mor
    • Seasonal affective disorder

      That is probably a leading reason. I have had that problem myself. For me, the single most effective remedy is GET SOME SUN! Go sit in the sun during lunch. When the sun is strongest for the day, stand facing directly into the sun, but close your eyes to avoid damage. Do that until you feel your face getting warm. Even 5 minutes a day helps a LOT. If you have no sun where you are or if the weather makes being outside impossible, there are various full spectrum light panels tha

  • Call me self medicating but "frop" or its common cousin cannabis seems to control my urges to eat lead.
    Year round!Some are naysayers,asserting that it is a depressant itself.Its always worked for me!Its kept me off prescription meds for decades now.Merry Christmas,go light a yule blunt!


  • Festivus [wikipedia.org] for the rest of us!
  • by SB5 (165464) <freebirdpat@NOspam.hotmail.com> on Tuesday December 27, 2005 @07:52AM (#14343991)
    I take medication during the holidays. Prescribed by myself. Ok I am not a doctor, so I self-medicate with alcohol.
  • Dr. Phil (Score:5, Funny)

    by andy753421 (850820) on Tuesday December 27, 2005 @08:20AM (#14344049) Homepage
    By following the simple advice I heard on the Dr. Phil show, I have finally found inner peace.

    Dr. Phil proclaimed, "The way to achieve inner peace is to finish all the things you've started and never finished."

    So, I looked around my house to see all the things I started and hadn't finished, and before leaving the house this morning. I finished off a bottle of Merlot, a bottle of White Zinfandel, a bottle of Bailey's Bristol Cream, a bottle of Kahlua, a package of Oreos, the remainder of my old Prozac prescription, the rest of the cheesecake, some saltines and a box of chocolates with the rest of my Smirnoff and Xanax.....

    You have no idea how freaking good I feel.
  • I Drink!

        Heavily.

    np
    • by emag (4640)
      I was tempted to respond, "The same thing we do every night, Pinky... Try to out-drink the WORLD!" but, as usual, someone beat me to the gist of it.
  • "sadness and depression"

    First, ask yourself if the sadness and depression is realistic. Is your connection with other people far less than is required to meet your needs? People in the U.S. culture often have families in which the members are very disconnected from each other. It's healthy to feel sad about that.

    Second, depression is caused by inner conflict. To relieve depression, you must resolve inner conflict. The fake methods of dealing with depression don't work, they just delay the intensity of the problem until later.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 27, 2005 @08:47AM (#14344113)
    This will probably get modded way down, but for me, accepting Jesus Christ as my Lord and Saviour has given me a peace and comfort that transcends any depression of the Christmas season. Why? Because I now have an eternal perspective on things that I never had before. Even if I live to be very old, my life here is truely very short in the perspective of eternity, and placing my faith in the eternal salvation of Jesus Christ gives me a hope that is far greater than any issue that this life can bring.

    No, it's not scientific, but I can say that since accepting Christ, I have experienced very real and tangible peace, hope, and understanding that gets me through every second of every day.

    If you hold even the slightest shred of possibility that God could exist, consider taking some time to simply ask God to reveal Himself to you. Don't expect a burning bush, but in your heart, ask Him to help you reveal Himself to you. Worst case, you waste a few minutes of your prescious time. Best case, your eternal destiniy will be sealed.
    • Having any source of faith in your life can help , it provides a support network of similarly minded people who are usually more than willing to lend a helping hand . It does not matter the religion , be you Jewish , Buddhist , Muslim , Taoist or Christian .
      This does not mean however that all depressed atheist/agnostics should go out and join a church , but if you are a believer in something then remember that as well as doctors there is the members of your community to talk to .

      Joining a faith is no miracl
    • by TheWanderingHermit (513872) on Tuesday December 27, 2005 @09:12AM (#14344207)
      This will probably get modded way down

      I hope it doesn't, but there are a lot of judgemental people here who mod something as troll simply because it's not what they want to hear. I don't consider myself a Christian, but I am a Quaker. I was an athiest and even, at one point, a fundamentalist. Faith can be a very important factor in life. There is also a gulf between faith and science, and both sides often have a poor understanding of the other (just listen to comments in the recent Intelligent Design debate to see how the ID people have no clue about the scientific method). Science describes what can be explained through nature and faith is a way of understand what science cannnot explain. The two should not be entangled or confused, but a focus on one should not, out of ignorance, preclude a focus on the other.

      As someone who was deeply depressed, I'm glad that you foudn a way out and added something valuable to your life. It is not the same faith as mine, but that does not make one right and the other wrong. If it works for you, that is great.

      But I wouldn't be surprised if many here indicate they don't understand the point of faith.
    • by tverbeek (457094) on Tuesday December 27, 2005 @10:08AM (#14344424) Homepage
      No, it's not scientific,

      Actually there is scientific support for this idea. In his book The Pursuit of Happiness, David Myers* cites a correlation between faith and happiness. The bullet-point version from his web site: "For many people, faith provides a support community, a reason to focus beyond self, and a sense of purpose and hope. Study after study finds that actively religious people are happier and that they cope better with crises." He has several articles about happiness [davidmyers.org] online, which make for some interesting reading.

      *If you've taken an introductory college Psych class, there's a good chance you used his textbook.

  • I simply drink myself into a stupor and try not to wake up untill the new year is well on its way.
  • Mine gave me 10mg of Lexapro to take once a day.

    It is working fantastically well.
    • Just wait till you want to quit. You're in for one hell of a ride.
      • And if you're anything like me, you'll never want to take it without food. I guarantee, that's the quickest way to puke up nothing but stomach acid.
        • yeah the nausea is pretty strong but i'm not much of a puker so no inside-out episodes yet. food does help in that it lessens the severity, but food makes it worse for me because the nausea duration is hours longer. even reading (or typing) the word 'nausea' makes my stomach move on its own behalf. ugh.

          as to the comment about me being in for quite a ride - what do you mean by that?
          • If your condition is acute, or if you ever need to change medicines, you're going to want to step down from your dosage when you want to stop taking them; dropping these medicines cold turkey is not recommended for a very good reason. I don't remember how it felt with the Lexapro, but when I forget or otherwise decline to take my Wellbutrin and Strattera, I feel like shit---and there really isn't any other way to describe it.
  • When your mind is in the algorithm, you will have no time to feel depress. Thats why whenever I feel the blues, I start coding like a mad man.
    • When your mind is in the algorithm, you will have no time to feel depress. Thats why whenever I feel the blues, I start coding like a mad man.

      That's an old solution to the problem, and a very effective one I might add. A helpful distraction.

      THE Camels hump is an ugly lump
      Which well you may see at the Zoo;
      But uglier yet is the hump we get
      From having too little to do.
      Kiddies and grown-ups too-oo-oo,
      If we havent enough to do-oo-oo,
      We get the hump
      Cameelious hump
      The hump that

  • What I find works for me is getting outside more often during the daylight hours... whether a walk, just sitting there, getting lunch, or joining a smoker-friend for their cigarette break, the warm sun beating down (even in sub-freezing weather) seems to help. At the least, try to get some time near a bright window.

    Also, making sure at night to have the lights on early seems to help, but then I spend a lot of my time near some home aquaria that have both "plant" and "sunshine" bulbs, so it could be a simil
  • Re: (Score:5, Funny)

    by dimss (457848) on Tuesday December 27, 2005 @09:42AM (#14344318) Homepage
    If Christmas makes you depressed, try celebrating Hanukkah.
  • Most problems at holiday times are the result of strained family relations. Some people are really cut off from the family most of the year and return home, only to be treated like a little kid again to put up with the same stupid jokes, stories and teasing.

    We had a couple hang with our family over the holidays, and they had a great time for the first time in years. They both come from families that were broken up by divorce, and normally get put through the guilt ringer.
  • Slamming doors helps too. And occasionally breaking shit.
  • Get laid!
  • tips for the hermit (Score:3, Informative)

    by tverbeek (457094) on Tuesday December 27, 2005 @11:13AM (#14344798) Homepage
    I'm an introvert, so the "outside" treatments for mild depression (e.g. join a club/church, reach out to friends and family) don't work well for me. So I do things that work in the safety of my hermitage.

    I live almost 45 degrees north, so to help compensate for the lack of daylight, I set a couple lights in the house on timers to simulate summer daylight hours. So it's always light out (in the hallway) when I wake up at 6:30am. I assign myself some projects, including some I'll enjoy for their own sake (e.g. write that short story I've been mulling over in my head), and some that I'll enjoy having finished (e.g. clean the kitchen). I drink, but with a strict cap on the quantity.

    I've developed some private holiday traditions. I buy myself a Solstice present (new digital camera this year). Every New Year's Eve since I stopped going to parties (which I only enjoyed when my partner was there with me, and he's not any more), I've spent the evening alone with a bottle of wine and some yummy snacks, doing something to "freshen up" my living space (e.g. reorganize my bookshelves, move the furniture around in the living room, relocate the server farm to another room).

  • One word - Bourbon (Score:3, Insightful)

    by slasher999 (513533) on Tuesday December 27, 2005 @11:16AM (#14344819)
    Which reminds me, I didn't drink enough over the weekend.
  • I don't. I have a good job, a beautiful family, and this is the time of the year when I get some free time to be with my little boy. We also eat delicious food, and I get to give my kid lots of nice presents, plus a new PC and assorted gadgets for me. Also, my wife gets amazingly "in the mood" this season, so I get laid almos nightly. All in all, Chrismas is wonderful.

    Oh, and I'm an insensitive clod, thank you very much.
  • which ,IIRC, last two or more weeks (in which case you need to see a doctor), seasonal blahs come from several sources.

    (1) Climate, especially northern latitudes. You may not have seasonal affective disorder, but you might be affected by it.

    (2) Diet. If you have any tendency toward metabolic disorder at all, your blood sugar levels are probably haywire.

    (3) Stress. For many, getting ready for christmas, and the massive pressure it puts on you to measure up. You're probably trapped with a bunch of people (f
  • This comment [slashdot.org] covered it pretty well, I think; and here are a few other resources that you may find useful:
  • Often, we have developed an unrealistic set of expectations that surround the holidays. Our culture has told us repeatedly that we should feel a certain way, and that if we don't that we are bad. That's total bullshit! We are who we are, and the sooner we accept it the better off we'll all be.

    Similarly, we need to recognize that we are not dependent on others 'to make us happy' nor are they dependent on us for their happiness. Face it, no one can make you happy and you can't make anyone else happy. P

  • For six years I spent the Christmas / New Year period on my own, initially I was dreading it but I ended up having the time of my life:

    I ate what I wanted when I wanted. One year I tried goose for a change just to be different

    I got exactly what I wanted for Christmas as I bought my own presents

    I could watch what I wanted on the TV without fights over the remote

    There were no fights between relatives, just me and the cat

    Obviously this isn't everyone's idea of Christmas, but Christmas on your own isn't as bad
  • Well, my family celebrates Christmas, and while I like playing Santa Claus, I've moved well away from the whole religious impact myself. I'm actually investigated conversion to Judaism, so that perhaps colours my vision a bit.

    From my experience, most of the issue comes down to expectations of happiness. I have relatives who like to play the 'big happy family' game. They expect everyone to grin and be happy and pretend we all get along on everything. And that, my friends, is really hard when you keep hearin

  • Minimize your expectations. Christmas is never going to be as exciting for you as an adult as it was when you were a 4-year-old.

    Negotiate a truce with your family and friends so that gifts are only bought for small children. (And only spend a little bit even then, so they won't grow up with unreasonable expectations of Holiday Magic either.)

    Use some of your time off (if any) to visit family and friends, but use some of it selfishly as well. Write that program, read that book, or take a nap and kill some tim
  • Seasonal affective disorder and light therapy has been covered adequately. I'll only add that I don't take medication when something cheaper and safer works, and it does for me.

    I believe that the more acute problems people suffer around the holidays is due to the hype (interpersonal as well as commercial). It leads to expectations far greater than the results. Anyone who's experienced that anticipates it, and so it affects them even before the holidays arrive.
  • by Eightyford (893696) on Tuesday December 27, 2005 @05:38PM (#14347779) Homepage
    Drugs are not the answer. Psychiatry isn't either! Scientology is the only way to beat depression.

    No. Not really.
  • Honest. If you can't manage anythinge else, get out of the house. Depression is an entity to be resisted, not just a feeling. It wants you isolated and alone. It doesn't matter what you do as long as you don't let it beat you by isolating you.
  • My impression is that the depressant effect of traditional holidays can sometimes be a result of sudden removal of usual distractions. Going through a traditional holiday ritual process, or being without it, can either be welcome, or it can easily concentrate the mind and feelings on awkward ultimate questions. Without the normal distractions, the result can be an unexpected need to tolerate one's own company, maybe even in the middle of a crowd. How to live with self can then with some folks be itself
  • Go home after work. Pull the blinds. Put on some good music, light some incense and try to center yourself. Boil some water for tea. Visualize yourself seated in a sea of calming light. Make your tea, inhale the steam and try to clear your mind.

    Then drop a shot of whiskey into your mug and down it quick. Repeat. You'll be flying high and ready to cause some trouble by midnight. Bars're good for that, so head out and make some new friends.

    Oh, and turn that soothing music off. That stuff's for sucks.
  • IF you can implement a bloody coping strategy, you are not depressed!

    I wished people would stop saying "I'm depressed", when they feel down. Depression is a state of mind I wish no one, as it is absolutely debilitating!

    You can't get shit done, if you are actually depressed. If you can get yourself out for a walk, you are NOT depressed. If you can make yourself something to eat, you are NOT depressed. If you can't do what you would like to do, bloody get over yourself (if you were depressed, you would
  • I try to get at least one significant holiday project done, recently these have been additionas and/or improvements to my website. Usually I also ge a few 'round-to-its accomplished too (empty that box from the last computer show, clear off ofne of my 'leaning towers of stuff' before the become the 'collapsing tower of stuff' (missed on one already, drat!)

    Also a little bit of introspection around new years to direct my next year.

  • Not quite the same as being depressed, but I think some of this "blues" feeling might be the stress of the holiday. My wife and I found that the best way to alleviate the stress of this overcommercialized piece-o-crap that is the holiday season is to simply stop celebrating it! Oh, sure, we tell people "happy holidays" and such, and we really mean it. We also give gifts to the kids and such (not our own - we don't have any - our friends kids. That is another stress reliever - we enjoy kids, as long as we do

Take care of the luxuries and the necessities will take care of themselves. -- Lazarus Long

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