Why do the holidays depress us?
Q: Why do I always get depressed around the holidays?
By Erica Brown
The holidays can be a very lonely time for people precisely because we freight them with so much expectation: family dinners where we don't gain any weight, rosy cheeked, well-behaved children who show deep appreciation for all their presents, living rooms filled with tinsel and good friends enjoying each other's company. Our consumer society has created visual and mental images of what the holiday season looks like with a Norman Rockwell-like gusto. Very few real people ever experience the holiday season this way. The holidays often spark huge financial anxieties, fear of being alone and the glut of gift-giving which can lead to greed, resentment, entitlement and jealousy. We've created a holiday season bereft of meaning and purpose and wonder why we feel empty.
Perhaps the best remedy for seasonal sadness is to start volunteering in a shelter or a soup kitchen, to reach out to a few good friends and to cut back on the materialism. The cold weather and early darkness of the season can also exacerbate moodiness. Staying in small, warm and well-lit rooms can also be a balm. A hot-chocolate with whipped-cream works wonders for instant cheer. But if the sweep of the season passes by without any significant improvement in well-being, it may be time to seek professional help. Depression is a serious illness, and if it's more than situational, it should be treated properly.
--Dr. Erica Brown, Director for Adult Education at The Partnership for Jewish Life and Learning..
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