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Depression – Fighting the Holiday Blues

The holidays can be especially difficult for those that are divorced or separated. Many people experience a resurgence or worsening of depression.

Depression is a common reaction to overwhelming circumstances that feel hopeless.

Depression has the following symptoms: a loss of pleasure in activities that used to be enjoyable, excessive guilt, ruminating thoughts, low self-esteem, sadness, a lack of motivation, hopelessness, and suicidal thoughts.

Depression can be caused by a chemical imbalance in the brain’s neurochemicals and/or thought patterns that lead to hopelessness. If it is a chemical imbalance, anti-depressants are usually necessary.

Professional counseling can help with changing the thoughts contributing to the hopelessness. If it is situational, meaning related to circumstances, it will pass when the circumstances change or in this case, when the holidays are over.

Depression Rock Bottom

Here are some common things you might find yourself doing around the holidays that lead to a worsening of depression:

Comparing Yourself to Other People

When you look at other people who have what you wish you had, you feel worse about your circumstances. The solution: Don’t compare yourself to anyone else.  

Expecting Your Holidays to be Ideal

The image we carry of the holidays is an unrealistic ideal. Most people don’t have perfect circumstances.

They are normal people who have problems. Don’t have any expectations.  Accept whatever circumstances you find yourself in and adapt to them.

You can celebrate on any day you choose and any way you choose. You can create new ways to celebrate.

You can find new people to be involved with. You can create new traditions.

You can even decide not to celebrate the holidays at all. Change your expectations to match your reality and you will instantly feel relief.   

Focusing on the Past

Two of the symptoms of depression are excessive guilt and rumination. The holidays often bring out increased loneliness because of the focus on family and intimate relationships.

This often triggers feelings of loss and with it the grief process.

One of the stages of grief is bargaining wherein you spend emotional and mental energy trying to figure out what happened and what could have been done to change it.

If you know you have worked through your divorce and relationship problems, don’t allow yourself to revisit what you have already done.  Don’t look back; look forward.

Isolating Yourself From Other People

Depressed people often give in to the depression by pulling away from others and by pulling back from involvement. Don’t allow yourself to isolate. 

Get involved with projects, people, and causes even when you don’t feel like it. Stay busy and you will find your spirits lifted through the connections, the activities, and the support.

Getting Stuck on the Negative

If you allow your thoughts to get stuck on what is wrong and bad, you will feel worse. Instead, focus on what is right and good.

No matter how bad things are, there are things in your life that you can celebrate. If you choose to keep your perspective positive instead of negative, you will have less to be depressed about.

Depression Overcast Heart

Depression can sneak up on you and before you know it, control your thoughts and emotions.

You have to watch for it and fight it by forcing yourself to do the things that will actually make you feel less depressed. You don’t have to have the holiday blues; you can take steps to do the things that will keep them away.

About The Author

This post is by Karla Downing, M.A., Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, author and founder of ChangeMyRelationship.  Karla grew up in a dysfunctional family and eventually found herself in a difficult marriage.  Through her personal struggles, she discovered biblical and practical principles she now teaches to others to change their lives and relationships.  Please visit her site to sign up for her free relationship tips and truths.

If you are struggling with feeling blue, depression or other negative emotions this holiday season I encourage you to remember you’re not defined by your circumstances, your past or the opinion of your friends and family.
The only thing that matters is what God thinks of you. Here are just a few of His thoughts:
  • Psalm 139:14. You are,“fearfully and wonderfully made.”
  • Psalm 17. You are,”the apple of His eye.”
  • Deuteronomy 7:6, You are,”His treasured possession.”  
  • Isaiah 54:14.  You are,”far from oppression, and fear does not come near me.”
  • Romans 8:37. You are, “more than a conqueror through Him Who loves me.”
God makes no mistakes. He loves you, me and each one of us so much He gave His only son, Jesus, to die on our behalf.
If we believe in Him we will receive forgiveness of our sins and have eternal life. Jesus is the reason for the season. Keep Christ in Christmas.

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