Seasonal Depression Isn’t A Joke & Here’s Why
Not feeling the Christmas cheer rn? For some, the holiday period is the loneliest time of year due to stressors outside of our control.
So we spoke to Senior Clinical Advisor Nick Duigan from headspace to discuss why people experience seasonal depression as well as how to recognise and combat it if you or a friend might be struggling.
What is ‘seasonal depression’?
Seasonal depression is an informal term that can be used to describe all the stuff that comes with the Christmas and holiday period that can make life more stressful. This might come from more socialising, grief and loss, isolation, money troubles, increased alcohol consumption and a disruption to routines that can all have a big impact on wellbeing.
This can lead to more mental health difficulties - particularly for those who may already be struggling and/or those who have reduced access to support or a less developed self-care routine.
What is it about the holiday period that makes us feel down?
Young people are generally facing several major life changes at this time of year. Each one of these are really hard to handle. Regular routines that may be provided by school, university, study or work are disrupted, which can impact on one's connection to others. On top of that, staying active, healthy eating, regular sleeping patterns, limiting alcohol and other drug use are all impacted by the holiday period.
It’s really the only age in life where so much is happening all at the same time, and it just happens that this is also when young people are still learning how to best take care of themselves.
What should we be looking out for?
Look out for changes in your version of ‘normal’, across all areas of your life. This will include; how you’re getting on with others around you, your eating and sleeping patterns, your motivation to do stuff that’s important to you, whether you’re avoiding stuff you would normally do. Take note of unpredictable outbursts and look out for risky behaviour, isloation and irritability that is out of character.
How can we help someone we care about who might be struggling?
Check in with them. Leaning on family and friends for support is one of the most important parts of a strong relationship. Someone who’s struggling may feel like a burden, and not feel comfortable to start a conversation. Help them out by offering support and seeing if there’s a way you can make things easier.
Be available without being intrusive. You can do this by spending regular time with them (even if it's one activity a week), ask them questions about their life without focusing on problems, encourage a healthy lifestyle and most importantly, take their feelings seriously. (It can be more useful at times to say nothing than to jump in with answers or solutions.)
‘New Year, New You’ often causes more anxiety – What's your best advice for heading into the New Year?
The New Year period can be a good opportunity to reflect on what has and has not been working in your life. Some of these things will be inside your control. The new year period will give you an opportunity to figure out if there’s anything you’d like to change to work on connecting you with the life you want. Read up on the seven areas of wellbeing here and create a self-care plan that suits you.
For more info and an in-depth look at seasonal depression, check out headpsace's official website. If you or anyone who know is struggling, you can call Lifeline Australia on 13 11 14 or Lifeline Auckland on (09) 522 2999 or visit Beyond Blue here.
Title Image: Years & Years