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Surviving Pre & Post Holiday Depression & The Holiday Blues

Holiday depression refers to a situational type of depression. It often happens because people feel stress, sadness, and high expectations during the holidays. Read more about the different treatment options for you or your loved ones struggling with holiday depression.

Holiday Depression

It’s common for people to feel a sense of sadness or disappointment before and after the holiday season has ended. This phenomenon is sometimes referred to as “Christmas depression,” “holiday depression,” “post holiday blues,” or “holiday hangover.”

How to Cope with Holiday Depression Blues

Several factors can contribute to holiday depression blues. For example, the excitement and anticipation leading to the holidays can be followed by a letdown once the festivities are over. The return to a routine and the end of vacation time can also be challenging to adjust to. Additionally, the pressure to spend time with family and friends or to meet certain expectations can lead to holiday depression. Depression during holidays can be stressful and lead to holiday sadness or exhaustion, resulting in depression after Christmas once breaks are over.

If you’re experiencing post Christmas depression, there are several things you can do to help cope with these feelings:

  1. Practice self-care: Take care of yourself by getting enough sleep, eating well, and exercising.
  2. Find ways to relax: Engage in activities that help you relax, such as reading, listening to music, or taking a warm bath. However, avoid depressing Christmas songs and movies.
  3. Connect with others: Spend time with friends or family, or reach out to a support group or mental health professional for help.
  4. Set goals: Make a plan for the coming year and set achievable goals to work towards. This can help you feel more in control and give you a sense of purpose.
  5. Seek professional help: If you’re struggling with more severe feelings of holiday sadness or depression, it may be helpful to speak with a mental health professional for additional support.

Remember that it’s normal to feel a sense of sadness or disappointment resulting in post holiday depression and that these feelings will likely pass with time.

Why the Holidays are Depressing for Some People

Christmas is depressing to some people, and many factors can contribute to feelings of depression during the holiday season. Some common causes include:

  1. Stress and pressure: The holiday season can be a busy time, with many social and financial obligations. This can lead to feeling overwhelmed and anxious.
  2. Loneliness: For some people, the holidays can be a time of loneliness, mainly if they are far from loved ones or have experienced the loss of a loved one.
  3. Unrealistic expectations: The holidays are often depicted as a time of joy and togetherness, which can lead to disappointment or inadequacy if reality doesn’t live up to these expectations.
  4. Changes in routine: The holiday season can disrupt people’s normal routines, which can be unsettling for some people.
  5. Financial difficulties: The holiday season can be financially stressful for many people, contributing to anxiety and depression.
  6. Past trauma or unresolved issues: The holiday season can bring up feelings of loss or trauma from the past, which can contribute to depression.

It’s important to remember that these are just some potential causes of holiday depression, and everyone’s experience is different. If you’re struggling with depression during the holidays, it’s essential to seek support and take care of yourself.

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Depression And Anxiety Disorders

Facts Sheet

Depression and anxiety frequently co-occur, especially in primary care settings. These co-occurrences manifest themselves in several ways and have different clinical courses. The scope and impact of depression and anxiety disorders worldwide are overwhelming.

The watershed Global Burden of Disease study found that major depression ranked fourth among all medical illnesses in terms of its disabling impact on the world population. The authors estimated that by the year 2020 and beyond, depression would be second only to ischemic heart disease. Anxiety disorders rank close behind major depression, contributing additional disability.


Depression Disorder

Depression is a severe medical illness. It’s more than just feeling sad or “blue” for a few days. If you are one of the more than 19 million individuals in the United States who have depression, the feelings do not go away. They persist and interfere with your everyday life. Symptoms can include:

  • Feeling sad or “empty”
  • Loss of interest in favorite activities
  • Overeating, or not wanting to eat at all
  • Not being able to sleep or sleeping too much
  • Feeling very tired
  • Feeling hopeless, irritable, anxious, or guilty
  • Aches or pains, headaches, cramps, or digestive problems
  • Thoughts of death or suicide

There are effective treatments for depression, including antidepressants, talk therapy, or both.

To be diagnosed with depression, your provider will ask about your medical history and symptoms. Your answers can help your provider diagnose depression and determine its severity.

Blood and urine tests may be done to rule out other medical conditions with symptoms similar to depression.

Anxiety Disorder

Anxiety is a feeling of fear, dread, and uneasiness. It might cause you to sweat, feel restless and tense, and have a rapid heartbeat. It can be a normal stress reaction. For example, you might feel anxious when faced with a complex problem at work, before taking a test, or before making an important decision. It can help you to cope. The anxiety may give you a boost of energy or help you focus. But for people with anxiety disorders, the fear is not temporary and can be overwhelming.

There are several types of anxiety disorders, including:

  • Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD). People with GAD worry about everyday health, money, work, and family issues. But their worries are excessive, and they have them almost every day for at least 6 months.
  • Panic disorder. People with panic disorder have panic attacks. These are sudden, repeated periods of intense fear when there is no danger. The attacks come on quickly and can last several minutes or more.
  • Phobias. People with phobias have an intense fear of something that poses little or no actual danger. Their fear may be about spiders, flying, crowded places, or being in social situations (known as social anxiety). [4]

When to Contact a Mental Health Professional

See your mental health provider if you or someone you know has symptoms of depression and anxiety disorders. It is especially important to seek help immediately if you or someone you know is having thoughts of suicide.

You can also call 911 or the local emergency number or go to the hospital emergency room. DO NOT delay.

If someone you know has attempted suicide, call 911 or the local emergency number immediately. DO NOT leave the person alone, even after you have called for help.

Holiday Depression Statistics

It’s challenging to find reliable statistics on the prevalence of holiday depression, as it can be influenced by various factors and may be difficult to quantify accurately. Holidays and depression often coexist. It’s common for people to experience some level of holiday sadness or loneliness; for some, these feelings can be more severe and persistent.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), an estimated 264 million people globally suffer from depression. In the United States, it is estimated that about 7% of adults will experience a major depressive episode in any given year. Depression is more common in women than men and can affect people of all ages, races, and socio-economic backgrounds.

If you’re struggling with depression during the holidays, it’s essential to take care of yourself and seek support if you need it. Remember, you are not alone, and help is available. It may be helpful to talk to a mental health professional or reach out to friends and family for support.


64 percent

 64% of people with an existing mental illness report that the holidays worsen their condition.

Source: NIMH

21 percent

21% of U.S. adults experienced mental illness in 2020 (52.9 million people). This represents 1 in 5 adults.

Source: NIMH

5.6 percent

5.6% of U.S. adults experienced severe mental illness in 2020 (14.2 million people). This means 1 in 20 adults.

Source: NIMH


Holiday Depression Pressures

It's common for people to experience some level of sadness or loneliness during the holiday season. The holiday season can be stressful for many, bringing up feelings of loss or isolation. 
While depression in the holidays is not unusual, if you're experiencing depression during the holidays, it's essential to take care of yourself and reach out for support if you need it.
It’s common for people to experience some level of sadness or loneliness during the holiday season. The holiday season can be stressful for many, bringing up feelings of loss or isolation.
While depression in the holidays is not unusual, if you’re experiencing depression during the holidays, it’s essential to take care of yourself and reach out for support if you need it.

It’s not uncommon for people to experience sadness or loneliness during the holiday season. The holidays can be a difficult time for many people for a variety of reasons. Some may feel pressure to meet expectations and create the “perfect” holiday, while others may feel a sense of loss or grief due to the absence of loved ones. If you are experiencing holiday depression (New Years Eve depression), here are a few things you can try:

  1. Reach out to loved ones and friends for support. Having a support system during the holidays is essential, and talking to someone about your feelings can be very helpful.
  2. Take care of yourself physically. Exercise, eat well, and get plenty of rest.
  3. Engage in activities that bring you joy. This could be anything from going for a walk to baking cookies to watching your favorite movie.
  4. Seek professional help if your feelings of sadness persist. A mental health professional can provide you with additional support and resources.

It’s important to remember that it’s okay to feel down during the holidays, and it’s okay to ask for help if you need it. Some people care about you and are willing to support you.

Holiday Depression Tips

  1. Take care of your physical health: Get enough sleep, exercise, and eat healthy meals.
  2. Connect with others: Reach out to friends and family and make plans to spend time with them, even if it’s just a virtual call.
  3. Practice self-care: Make time for activities that bring you joy and relaxation, such as taking a warm bath, reading a book, or going for a walk.
  4. Seek professional help: If your feelings of depression are severe or persistent, consider seeking the help of a mental health professional.

Remember, depression and the holidays can come together. It’s okay not to feel great constantly, and taking care of yourself is essential. Don’t hesitate to reach out for support if you need it.

Top 5 FAQs on Surviving Pre & Post Holiday Depression & The Holiday Blues

  1. Why is depression during holidays typical?

    For people that do not have immediate family or close friends around them during the holidays, feelings of sadness and depression around the holidays are common. The holidays carry more tension to “connect,” resulting in holiday anxiety and depression. The holidays can be stressful for individuals feeling disconnected on an emotional level.

  2. Why does Christmas make me sad?

    Holidays tend to bring up memories of those no longer with us or those with whom we no longer have a relationship. The loss might be because of death, divorce, or distance. Holidays can make us feel like we’re going through the mourning process again.

  3. What to do when you are sad on Christmas?

    Depression doesn’t just vanish because of a day in the calendar, and we shouldn’t feel guilty about feeling sad, whatever the season. One small thing you can do in advance has a candid conversation with a family member, friend, or partner who you know will be at your holiday events and can be there for you emotionally

  4. How to get in the Christmas spirit when depressed?

    People with depression – or who have had depression in the past – need to be especially careful when coping with holiday stress. While it might take some conscious effort, you can reduce stress and symptoms of depressed Christmas spirit. Read this article to learn some tips.

  5. Why are the holidays so depressing?

    Why do I get depressed around the holidays? Feeling depressed during the holidays is a very real but treatable concern. Even some people who love the holidays can experience depression at Christmas.

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Holiday Depression Quotes

Here are a few quotes about holiday depression (Christmas depression quotes) that may be helpful or resonant for you:

  1. “The holiday season can be a time of great joy, but it can also be a time of great sadness, particularly for those who have experienced loss or are struggling with mental health issues.”
  2. “It’s okay to not feel okay during the holidays. Don’t be afraid to take care of yourself and reach out for support if you need it.”
  3. “The holiday season is a time for celebration, but it’s also a time for self-care. Remember to prioritize your own well-being and seek help if you need it.”
  4. “The holidays are not always easy, but they can be a time for growth and healing. Remember to be kind to yourself and reach out for support if you need it.”
  5. “The holiday season is a time for togetherness, but it can also be a time of loneliness. Remember to reach out to others and seek support if you’re feeling isolated or depressed.”

What Are The Symptoms of Seasonal Depressive Disorder

Seasonal affective disorder (SAD), also known as seasonal depression, is a type of depression that occurs at the same time each year, usually during the fall and winter months. It is believed to be caused by a lack of sunlight, which can disrupt the body’s internal clock and affect the levels of certain chemicals in the brain.

Symptoms of SAD can include:

  1. Depressed mood
  2. Loss of interest or pleasure in activities
  3. Difficulty concentrating
  4. Changes in appetite and weight
  5. Changes in sleep patterns
  6. Fatigue or low energy
  7. Feelings of hopelessness or worthlessness
  8. Suicidal thoughts

If you’re experiencing any of these symptoms, it’s essential to seek help from a mental health professional. SAD is a treatable condition, and there are many effective treatments available.

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Depression Rates During Holidays

It’s difficult to accurately quantify the rate of depression during the holiday season, as it can vary widely from person to person and may be influenced by various factors. However, it’s common for people to experience some level of sadness or loneliness during this time of year, and for some people, these feelings can be more severe and persistent. The holiday season can be stressful for many, bringing up feelings of loss or isolation. If you’re struggling with depression during the holidays (New Year Depression), it’s essential to take care of yourself and seek support if you need it. Remember, you are not alone, and help is available.

Holiday Depression Tips

If you’re struggling with depression during the holiday season, here are some tips that may be helpful:

  1. Take care of your physical health: Make sure to get enough sleep, exercise, and eat healthy meals.
  2. Connect with others: Reach out to friends and family and make plans to spend time with them, even if it’s just a virtual call.
  3. Practice self-care: Make time for activities that bring you joy and relaxation, such as taking a warm bath, reading a book, or going for a walk.
  4. Set realistic expectations: Don’t put too much pressure on yourself to have the “perfect” holiday. It’s okay to do things differently this year and set boundaries if needed.
  5. Seek professional help: If your feelings of depression are severe or persistent, consider seeking the help of a mental health professional.
  6. Remember that it’s okay not to feel okay all the time: It’s important to take care of yourself and seek support if needed. Don’t hesitate to reach out for help.
  7. Practice gratitude: Focusing on what you are grateful for can help improve your mood and perspective.
  8. Take breaks: It’s okay to step away from holiday activities and obligations if they become overwhelming.
  9. Seek support: Don’t be afraid to reach out to friends, family, or a mental health professional for support. You are not alone, and help is available.

Know that depression during the holidays is normal and temporary for most people.

Don't let depression during holidays spiral.  If you feel depressed during holidays simply apply our tips to improve your outlook.
Don’t let depression during holidays spiral. If you feel depressed during the holidays, apply our tips to improve your outlook.

Causes of Holiday Depression

Many factors can contribute to feelings of depression during the holiday season. Some common causes of Christmas depression causes include:

  1. Stress and pressure: The holiday season can be a busy time, with many social and financial obligations. This can lead to feelings of being overwhelmed and anxious.
  2. Loneliness: For some people, the holidays can be a time of loneliness, mainly if they are far from loved ones or have experienced the loss of a loved one.
  3. Unrealistic expectations: The holidays are often depicted as a time of joy and togetherness, which can lead to disappointment or inadequacy if reality doesn’t live up to these expectations.
  4. Changes in routine: The holiday season can disrupt people’s normal routines, which can be unsettling for some people.
  5. Financial difficulties: The holiday season can be financially stressful for many people, contributing to anxiety and depression.
  6. Past trauma or unresolved issues: The holiday season can bring up feelings of loss or trauma from the past, which can contribute to depression.

It’s important to remember that these are just some potential causes of holiday depression, and everyone’s experience is different. If you’re struggling with depression during the holidays, it’s essential to seek support and take care of yourself.

Holiday Depression Syndrome – Post Holiday Blues

There is no specific medical condition known as “holiday depression syndrome.” However, it is common for people to experience some level of sadness or loneliness during the holiday season, and for some people, these feelings can be more severe and persistent. This is sometimes referred to as “holiday blues.

The holiday season can be stressful for many, bringing up feelings of loss or isolation. If you’re struggling with depression during the holidays, it’s essential to take care of yourself and seek support if you need it. Here are some things you can try:

  1. Take care of your physical health: Get enough sleep, exercise, and eat healthy meals.
  2. Connect with others: Reach out to friends and family and make plans to spend time with them, even if it’s just a virtual call.
  3. Practice self-care: Make time for activities that bring you joy and relaxation, such as taking a warm bath, reading a book, or going for a walk.
  4. Seek professional help: If your feelings of depression are severe or persistent, consider seeking the help of a mental health professional.

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Feeling depressed at the holidays is very real.  But it is a treatable concern.
Feeling depressed at the holidays is very real. Holiday depression is a treatable concern.

How to Support Someone With Holiday Depression Symptoms?

If you have a loved one who is struggling with depression during the holidays, there are several things you can do to support them:

  1. Offer to spend time together: Make plans to spend time with your loved one, even if it’s just a virtual call. This can help them feel connected and less isolated.
  2. Encourage them to seek help: If your loved one’s symptoms of depression are severe or persistent, encourage them to seek help from a mental health professional. Offer to go with them to appointments or help them find resources.
  3. Be understanding and non-judgmental: It’s essential to be supportive and understand your loved one’s struggles. Avoid criticizing or trying to fix their problems; offer a listening ear and a supportive presence.
  4. Encourage self-care: Encourage your loved one to prioritize their well-being and engage in activities that bring them joy and relaxation.
  5. Offer practical assistance: Depending on your loved one’s needs, you may be able to offer practical assistance, such as helping with errands or providing a meal.
  6. Stay in touch: Make an effort to stay in touch with your loved one, even if you can’t be together in person. A phone call or text message can go a long way in helping them feel connected and supported.

It’s important to remember that everyone’s experience with depression is different, and it’s okay not to have all the answers. The most important thing you can do is be there for your loved one and offer support and understanding.

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Holiday Depression Treatment Options

If you are experiencing holiday depression and are seeking therapy to manage your feelings, there are several options available to you. Here are a few approaches that may be helpful:

  1. Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT): This type of therapy helps you identify negative thought patterns and behaviors and replaces them with more positive ones. It can be particularly helpful in managing holiday depression.
  2. Interpersonal therapy (IPT): This type of therapy focuses on your relationships and helps you to improve communication and manage conflicts. It can be useful in addressing the social and interpersonal factors that may be contributing to your holiday depression.
  3. Mindfulness-based therapy: This type of therapy helps you to be more present in the moment and to manage your emotions and thoughts more effectively. It can be a useful tool for managing holiday stress and depression.

It’s important to find a therapist who is a good fit for you and your needs. Don’t be afraid to ask potential therapists about their training, experience, and approach to treatment. You may also want to consider seeking support from a support group or joining an online community of people who are also struggling with holiday depression.

People who suffer from depression can experience severe sadness that lasts weeks or even months. It’s common for those battling mental illness to also struggle with substance abuse. Sometimes it can be challenging to determine which condition came first. People with prolonged periods of profound sadness may reach for drugs or alcohol to ease the pain, feelings, and other symptoms.

In the general population, the prevalence of a current substance use disorder in persons with Major depressive disorder (MDD) ranges from 8.5 to 21.4%, with a lifetime prevalence of comorbid SUDs ranging from 27 to 40% [6]. Co-occurring depression has an adverse effect on the course of substance use disorders. Current depression predicted poorer treatment response and higher rates of relapse.

The mental health field has long discussed whether these conditions are independently occurring disorders or are overlapping illnesses intertwined by common etiologic and vulnerability factors. The initial presentation of depression can be obscured by the overriding symptoms or side effects of a substance use disorder (SUD).

However, substance use can make depression symptoms more severe. Clinical depression increases the risk of accidental injury, suicide, and other forms of self-harm. Add in drugs or alcohol, and the threats to the person’s mental and physical health can be extreme.

Mental Health Depression Assessment

To determine the most effective ways to treat depression and substance abuse comorbidity, getting an accurate assessment of all the symptoms is crucial. When a mental health professional has evaluated the symptoms, it may be determined that another form of mental condition is present and needs a particular treatment. 

Some of the many modalities applied and practiced within our residential treatment facility are:

If you or a loved one are struggling with long-term drug abuse and a co-occurring mental health condition such as major depressive disorder (MDD), contact one of our helpful treatment specialists today. We Level Up NJ can provide information on dual diagnosis and medical detox programs that may fit your needs.

At We Level Up NJ, we prioritize removing the stigma and temptations for relapse and applying an air of recovery into every component of the treatment timeline. We find that clients living in a supportive community, especially during their early recovery process, can genuinely focus on what matters most: their recovery. 

Depression on holidays can be hard on most people.   If you find yourself stressed and depressed during the holidays, an expert gives us advice on how to cope, including seeking help.
Depression on holidays can be hard on most people.  If you find yourself stressed and depressed during the holidays, an expert gives us advice on how to cope, including seeking help.
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