The festive holidays can be difficult for some people for several reasons, and you don’t already have to have issues with mental health for that to happen. The Christmas and New Year‘s celebrations are all about getting together, buying gifts, eating lots, and having a good time, but that isn’t always the case for everyone. Thus, festive depression can be an issue.
What Is Festive Depression?
Some might call festive depression Christmas depression, but it doesn’t start and end with Christmas. Depression at this time of year will also come into play for New Year celebrations as well, hence, festive depression. Therefore, festive depression is the state of depression that can develop on the run up to, and during, the Christmas and New Year’s celebrations. But, may not be fully expressed until after the festive celebrations are over.
Furthermore, rather than Christmas day being the day when people are more likely to feel suicidal, it’s actually New Year that poses the most risk (Hofstra et al., 2018). That means festive depression can often lead to a spike in suicide during January, rather than over the Christmas period. That’s likely due to realising you might have to live through another year like the last one, if you’ve been struggling. Or as a rebound to that bolstered sprit of togetherness over the festive holidays. The Christmas festivities, such as being able to attend an office Christmas party, likely offer some protection over Christmas, which may run out by the New Year.
In short, festive depression is the depressive state you could enter on the run up to Christmas, over Christmas, and into the New Year.
A Selection Of Factors That Can Cause Festive Depression
People not accepting you
Although progress has been made and people are less ignorant, there are still far too many people with views that will stop people from being accepted. For example, people from the LGBTIQ+ community often still have to deal with being ostracised after coming out.
The relentless message of Christmas is that everyone is having a merry old time. This message can make you feel festive depression because you can feel like something is wrong with you or that you’ve failed if you’re not happy at Christmas.
The perfect Christmas
The stress of trying to make the holidays perfect, getting the must have gifts for the children, making sure Christmas dinner goes off without a hitch, etc. can all add to festive depression, anxiety, and stress.
The reality is, for many people, the festive holiday is something to be endured rather than enjoyed. I know for me, I’m really not fussed about Christmas and I’m happy to spend it alone, so I don’t have to worry about the stress that comes with trying to make Christmas perfect for everyone.
The temptations that come with the festive holidays puts those in recovery at risk, and thus can be a source of festive depression, anxiety, and stress. The festive period has office parties that will have alcohol. Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, and Boxing Day have alcohol involved as well, and then there’s New Year‘s Eve. New Year‘s Eve is often the biggest piss-up of the lot. It’s a very tempting time of year.
For some people they might not be able to spend the festive season with family and friends, for whatever reason. At other times of the year, this isolation might not really be noticed, but at Christmas, it’s all about getting together and being around your loved ones. This expectation of being with your loved ones at Christmas can amplify the feelings of being lonely.
Knowing that other people might spend the festive period with their loved ones and watching films and TV shows of people with their loved ones can sting when you’re feeling alone. Thus, you can feel extra lonely when this happens, which can cause the development of festive depression.
It can also be depressing to be around other people with their families if you don’t have a family of your own. Much like a third wheel on a date, you can feel like the odd one out around the dinner table if everyone else is with their partner(s) and children.
20 Tips For Coping With Festive Depression
- Check what charities and organisations are doing in your local area to help people avoid feeling lonely over the festive holidays.
- Make new friends through Meetup. Here you can join groups and find events and activities you can join, or even create your own. Meetup also has a post about how you can make friends as an adult, which you also might find useful. Click here to check it out.
- You could also offer your time as a volunteer to help over the festive holiday. Homeless organisations often put on special Christmas dinner events for the homeless and are often in need of some extra hands.
- Set realistic expectations of your festive holiday so you don’t end up with festive depression.
- To avoid stress, make a list of the things you need to get sorted and arrange it in order of importance and priority. Remove anything that just isn’t important. No point getting festive depression over something you don’t need to do.
- If you’re in recovery, make sure you have a plan for how to handle the Christmas and New Year‘s Eve temptations.
- Also, if you’re in recovery, find out which Christmas staples contain alcohol so you can avoid them.
- Make time for yourself and self-care.
- Contact old friends and co-workers.
- Create a budget, so you don’t end up spending more money than you can afford, resulting in you fearing opening a letter asking for that money.
- Acknowledge your feelings, it’s ok to feel down with festive depression. Just don’t let it overwhelm you.
- Seek professional support, that’s what they’re there for.
- Create or buy gifts to give to those in need.
- Don’t abandon your healthy habits.
- Don’t let intrusive thoughts ruin your festive holidays. For more information on how you can tackle intrusive thoughts, click here.
- Celebrate the festive holidays in your own way. There’s no rule that you have to spend it with family and friends. I know I didn’t, throughout my twenties and early thirties. Instead, I made Christmas a special day for myself to enjoy alone. Being alone doesn’t mean being lonely. I was thankful to have time on my own.
- Don’t try to please everyone like a people-pleasing machine.
- Join or volunteer for Re-engage, which is a charity dedicated to helping older people from feeling lonely, offering regular tea parties and call a companion service.
- Find ways to keep yourself occupied to help keep the festive depression at bay, such as taking tours around your city and visiting the galleries and museums.
- If you’re lonely, use social media to connect and talk with people, rather than doomscrolling your way through other people’s happy festive news.
As always, leave your feedback in the comments section below. Also, please share your experiences with festive depression in the comments section below as well. Don’t forget to bookmark my site and if you want to stay up-to-date with my blog, then sign up for my newsletter below. Alternatively, get push notifications for new articles by clicking the red bell icon in the bottom right corner.
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Unwanted Life readers.
Hofstra, E., Elfeddali, I., Bakker, M., de Jong, J. J., Van Nieuwenhuizen, C., & van der Feltz-Cornelis, C. M. (2018). Springtime peaks and Christmas troughs: A national longitudinal population-based study into suicide incidence time trends in the Netherlands. Frontiers in psychiatry, 9, 45. Retrieved from https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyt.2018.00045 and https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyt.2018.00045/full.
63 thoughts on “Festive Depression: When Christmas Joy Turns To The Blues”
The stat that people feel worse at Christmas rather than New Year really resonates.
I always remember being fine at Christmas but hating New Year because it made me think about what other people my age where doing while I was sat at home watching Jools Holland.
The realisation that people aren’t as having a great time as they make out was a relief and stopped making me feel like a boring lover for never having any plans!
I hardly celebrate New Year’s anymore since moving to the capital, and that’s ok. You don’t have to have plans for New Year’s Eve
I was asleep by 10.30 a couple of years ago. There is an element of fear of missing out with these things.
I can understand that feeling, but you’re not missing much
Many people get into unessential debt at Christmas and when the credit card bill arrives in January things look like they are unmanageable. Also overindulgence for people suffering with weight problems can cause new year depression. Myself it’s my second Christmas drink free and I will be telling more people too f-off with Christmas parties and the rest of the alcohol induced stuff.
I’ve not read an in-depth explanation about depression during festive times like this one.
I agree with you. Just the past few days there’s a wave of anxiety that swept over me. Thinking about things like with whom or where will I celebrate Christmas can make you feel sad and lonely if you don’t find definitive answers.
And for any kind of depression, not just in the festive season, being alone can be the worst thing to happen to you.
You could invite a friend or a sibling to stay with you a couple of days or visit family and have someone to talk to. When you’re alone creepy ideas get into your head and that’s how suicidal thoughts start.
I hope everyone reading this will have an amazing festive season full of joy and happiness. May you be surrounded by love and kindness.
Merry Christmas everyone!
Joy from Bloom For Her
Thanks for sharing your thoughts and happy holidays to you too
Debt as Christmas is a huge problem that a lot of people spend the rest of the year paying off, which isn’t an ideal way to live.
There’s nothing wrong with skipping Christmas parties so you can have an easy drink free festive period
Christmas can be a very high or low period for many people. Interesting points.
The expectation of being merry at Christmas is a powerful issue! We lost several loved ones this year so it’s important to give myself permission to be sad at times.
Thanks for commenting
I have always felt more depressed around the holiday season, partially due to the fact that I was working all of the holidays insane hours, Family issues, and money. Since most of these factors have changed this year I’m hoping that the holiday season will be more joyous for me than it was the last 20 something years of my life
I’m rooting for you to have a more joyous festive holiday this time around ??☃️?
I haven’t got this before but it’s interesting to know about it. Thank you for sharing!
Thanks for reading
Festive seasons is the most anticipated and fun filled season, yet there are a lot of stress attached to them. What an awesome points you have there. Thanks for sharing
Often things that are highly anticipated come with a lot of stress and disappointment
Thank you for sharing this. The holidays have become hard for me now that my children are grown and in the military away from home. I get to see my son once a year if I’m lucky. Not everyone is allowed to be home for holidays.
I hope you get to spend some quality time with your whole family soon
I feel this. The holiday dread starts the day after Halloween, and some years it doesn’t let up until Valentine’s Day. Anyone who struggles during the holiday season has my sympathy. I’m with you.
That’s a long time to feel that way. Have you talked to your doctor about possibly having seasonal affective disorder?
I have never felt this but I can understand what you mean. I have friends who feel depressed during Christmas and New year’s Eve.
Actually, I never in my life did what most people do. Since I live away from my parents I choose these days to visit and spend some time with them, just the 3 of us. No decoration, no other people gathering, sometimes not even special meal.
Also, I never chose to go to parties during these days. Sometimes I have been because I had to, like office parties but don’t enjoy it and leave as fast as I can.
Not everyone feels the need to celebrate Christmas and other holidays, and that’s ok
Fantastic post. I think we all need the reminder that Christmas doesn’t have to be all about joy all the time, and we’re allowed to talk about our mental health even during this time. I love how you are bringing this idea to light, and I hope it helps people who can relate. Thank you for sharing
Any time is a good time to talk about mental health
Thank you so much for sharing these tips, I’m sure they’ll come in handy for people suffering this year! My dad suffers with seasonal depression and it’s so hard to watch, but I’ll defiantly be looking into these tips and using them. Xo
Elle – ellegracedeveson.com
I hope the tips help. You might also be interested in my next article coming out in the 15th, which talks about SAD
I have a soft spot for Christmas, but I need to admit it’s not always as easy as we can make it look. I feel like a lot of people will try to hide the negative thoughts just because of the people they have around and such, but I have learned that that is very much counterproductive for me. We have been spending Christmas in London now for two years in a row with no option to go see our family (we all know why) and it has made Christmas more of a dreaded time of the year than the usual happy time. I guess you can say we struggle with our feelings too, so it’s great to have these tips to look at when I will be at my worst.
Sorry to hear you’ve not been able to travel home to spread Christmas with your family. Hopefully you’ll be able to do that by next Christmas
I am lucky enough to have friends and family to plan celebrations with and send little gifts too, but even so I often still feel the stress of making sure everything is on track and set on the line to go down perfectly. A to-do list is a must for me because it helps me keep track of where I am at and what I need to do. It also gives me a sense of purpose.
Thanks for sharing some important ways we can contribute to other people’s holiday joy too! 🙂
Thanks for sharing your experience of the festive period and what works for you to manage it
since I lost my dad this fall – the holidays have felt a lot more sad this year. i’m trying to still enjoy it but i know i need to be more gentle with myself this year especially.
I’m sorry for your loss. There’s nothing wrong with taking it easy this year, the less stress the better
Great tips here and I find myself not enjoying New Year’s so much but I just watch films and make sure I’m planning for the next year!
I think it’s really the post-holiday depression that made me want to tone down holidays. I wonder how many of us labeled “Grinch”s are actually suffering this.
That’s a good question, I wonder if anyone’s ever looked into that
A really interesting take on the festive season. I can definitely identify with the post-Christmas blues. I know your tips will help so many
Great post! I have found that my mental health is at its best and sometimes worst around the holidays, there is never any in-between. I think it also has to do with all of the expectations we as a society have for the holidays, that they have to be perfect and happy and Hallmark card-ish in order to be good. But some of the best times of the season can be those stolen little moments with those you love most, not doing anything fancy, just being together. ❤️
Indeed. Thanks for sharing your thoughts
Very important to talk about this. Feeling depressed during one of the “jolliest” times of the year can make you feel extremely lonely. I’m sure these tips will help someone!
This is such a hard time of year. There’s so much pressure to have a good time, to be engaging with everything festive and there’s so much socilializing with friends and family. It can so easily feel like too much
Great tips and great post! Volunteering takes your mind off of yourself, and makes you feel better. =) Thanks for sharing.
I definitely notice changes in my mood about Christmas and New Year now that I’m getting older, but I don’t let it stop me from cherishing every moment even by celebrating it in a new and different way. I’m sorry for those who get depressed into these annual milestones. Thanks for sharing. Really eye-opening.
Thanks for sharing your experience
I enjoy Christmas and New Year with my loved ones but I understand that for some people it is not a happy time. Volunteering could be a good way for those people to make the experience of Christmas better. Thank you for sharing this post.
Lauren – bournemouthgirl
Thanks for commenting
I like your suggestion to stay busy during the holidays with non-holiday activities. I haven’t been to the art museum in some time! Thank you!
Thanks for commenting
Thank you for sharing about this important topic, you are right, not everyone is happy at the holidays. This really resonates, since it used to be me for many years. It can be especially hard if you already struggle with depression or addiction, or if you have toxic family. Finding understanding and acceptance for these issues in society is crucial, so that people aren’t coming into the new year and committing suicide. Thank you for providing these resources for those that are struggling.
Thank you for sharing your insights
I knew friend who would always get sad during the holiday season. I always wondered why reading your article really did help me understand m. When you said that during New Years a person can feel sad because they don’t want to live another year the same. That definitely makes sense.
I guess that’s the problem with milestones like New Year’s Eve and birthdays, if you’re struggling it can make you dread another year of the same
I felt that a little bit this year. Being away from my grandpa was hard. I really miss my dog also.
How come you’ve been away from both?
I really enjoy Christmas, the whole idea behind it: organising, the food, the presents… Then once that it’s over, my mood goes down spiralling and I honestly detest new year. Your article was very much a great read to understand the whys and hows of what happens to my mind the days were everything is a big no. Thank you for sharing it x
I hope the information brought you a little help or comfort about what happens to you after Christmas
Thanks for sharing your experience of the festive period and what works for you to manage it.