When the snow hits, and the lights go up, some start feeling excitement, others, aren’t sure how they feel. The winter months can be a hard time for many people for any number of reasons. There are some sure signs you might identify with that increase the possibility of holiday depression, seasonal affective disorder (SAD), or a general low mood.
1. Having lost someone.
This time of year is hard for people who have lost someone. This can be loss in many forms including those who are no longer with us, and some who are no longer in our lives. Maybe a significant romantic relationship or friendship ended this time of year in the past. What some people are unaware of is that any loss causes us to grieve, even when we lose those who are still with us; this can be difficult to heal from. If you find yourself missing someone terribly, this can trigger low mood.
2. You’re way too busy
For many people, especially (but not only!) moms, and those with large families, the holidays are a whirlwind of get-togethers, gatherings, dinners, presents, cleaning, cooking, baking, shopping, you name it, it’s happening. When we put ourselves into over drive, we forget to take time for self-care. Many people say they don’t have time, but those are the priorities that will put you into a downward spiral. Taking 5 minutes for yourself once a day (minimum) is one way to combat the possibility of becoming depressed.
3. You don’t want to say no
Another insight on being too busy is that we find it hard to say no. Having healthy boundaries, especially with family members, will reduce the risk of burn out. It is okay to let someone else host the Christmas-eve dinner this year. If we worry about people not liking us or creating issues because we said no, then maybe we need to rethink our relationship with these people. Our mental health is more important than becoming stuck in a low place.
4. You have no desire to do anything
Some of the classic signs of depression are low mood, lack of motivation, low energy, restlessness, irritability, and over sleeping or lack of sleeping. If you find you don’t want to do much, or don’t have the energy to, you might want to ask yourself if you’re also experiencing any of these other symptoms.
5. You’re asking yourself what would it be like if I weren’t here
Some people have thoughts of ending their life that come and go. Some are seriously considering suicide. Whether you have fleeting thoughts of harming yourself, or plans, know there is help for both. Many times there are parts of ourselves that don’t want to die. A mental health professional can help. Reaching out to family and friends is a good place to start for support, and going one step further to talk to a therapist will get you the tools you need to turn these thoughts around.
There are all types of depression and not everyone’s moods will look the same. The most important thing we can do is ask for help. Find someone who you can feel comfortable with to share what you are going through. These signs of depression are not enough to be diagnosed, so if you think you or someone you know might be struggling, please reach out. The nice thing about therapy is that no one will judge you, and it is confidential. So no matter how hard it is, remember that there is always someone who is ready to help! Take care of you first!
Article by: Dr. Ashley Spinney, DSW, MSW, RCSW
Owner and psychotherapist at Mindhous Wellness