In Focus

Depression can strike during the happiest of holidaysHoliday Depression

By Ashley Kahn

This time of year, you can’t travel two blocks without hearing “Happy Holidays” or “Merry Christmas.” So what happens when you feel anything but cheerful?

According to licensed clinical psychologist Susan Shapiro, depression occurs more around celebratory occasions because they remind us of what we’ve lost. Whether this loss is a loved one, a job or a home, the holidays stir up painful feelings that can be easier to avoid during the routine of everyday life.

“We tend to compare the inside of our lives to the outside of other people’s lives,” Shapiro said. “You have this picture of what you want your life to look like, and reality doesn’t match.”

These feelings of inadequacy are intensified by extended family visits, commercialized visions of the “perfect holiday,” and countless opportunities for overindulging. The key is to determine when your “Blue Christmas” becomes a true cause for concern.

“If during the year you push away every painful thing that happens, you are more likely to become depressed,” Shapiro said. “Deal with them as they come, and take positive steps to make your life better.”

Don’t be ashamed if those steps include asking for help.

“Some people feel seeking therapy is a sign of weakness,” Shapiro said. “But to me walking through the door and admitting you have a problem is a sign of true courage and bravery.”

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