How Holiday Stress Affects Mental Illness

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How Holiday Stress Affects Mental Illness

Although the holidays can be a happy time for some and a chance to celebrate with family and friends, others find the time of the season to be stressful. It is common for people to experience depression and anxiety during the holidays and this time of year can even be dangerous for people suffering from mental health and addiction issues.

In addition to worrying about the stress of shopping and buying the right gift, some people have to deal with old wounds from their families or estranged relatives. They may have to see and talk to people who have hurt them in the past or with whom they have a difficult relationship. The holidays can also bring back memories or be a time to mourn the loss of someone who has passed on. All of the emotional distress that can go along with the holiday season can have a strong effect on anyone already dealing with other issues like a mental illness.

Loneliness During the Holidays
For people with problems like clinical depression or anxiety disorders, their conditions can be severely tested by the stress of the holidays. A recent survey determined the enormous toll that the period between November and January can take on people suffering from a mental illness. According to the results, most of the respondents said that the holidays contribute to them feeling sad and dissatisfied.

About 68 percent of those in the survey said they felt financially strained and 66 percent experienced loneliness. Of those questions, the majority also felt that the holidays brought too much pressure and the season posed many unrealistic expectations. More than 50 percent of people in the survey found that they think about happier times during the holidays and lament about loved ones they cannot be with. The results of the survey show that the season highlights everything that is difficult about living with depression.

Minimizing Holiday Stress
With more pressure to be joyful and social, people with mental illnesses can often feel even more alienated or discouraged about their condition. Since people often find that their mental health condition becomes worse during the holidays it is important for them to understand the effects of holiday stress and have options for treatment and support.

Overall, holiday depression affects 1 million people every year and those with diagnosed mental illnesses can be hit much harder. People with mental illnesses should be aware of the dangers of the season and work hard to minimize their stress and loneliness in the six weeks encompassing Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s.

Health officials even suggest that they should even try to avoid stress altogether whenever possible for their safety and well-being. It is important for people with mental health issues to realize that it is normal to feel down around the holidays especially if you have lost someone you love and are experiencing the grief of the season without them. Mental health professionals say it is a good idea to express feelings of loneliness to others and seek comfort from the community or social organizations.

People struggling during the holidays should also try to take time to consider the true meaning of the season instead of getting overwhelmed by materialism. If they can dedicate themselves to spiritual pursuits or feel gratitude for the people that they do have in their life it can help reduce stress and feelings of depression. Everyone experiences some form of stress during the holidays and many people have holiday blues due to certain circumstances. Anyone with a mental illness, however, should be especially careful to take care of themselves and their psychological health throughout the holiday season to prevent their condition from becoming worse.