How to Approach the Holidays When You’re Depressed

It's a myth that suicide rates skyrocket between Thanksgiving and Christmas. The truth is that the month of December has the fewest number of suicides than any other time of year (Karr, 2012). What is interesting to note, however, is that there is a significant increase of suicides right after Christmas -- a 40 percent increase.

From the studies that have been done on depression, suicide, and the holidays, it seems that the winter holidays insulate many from suicide, but there is a sort of rebound effect that occurs once the holidays have passed (Karr, 2012).

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How to Lower Your Holiday Stress

It’s holiday time. In addition to everything else you have to do, you now have shopping, decorating, wrapping, entertaining, organizing, cleaning and cooking to tend to.

Why does life have to be so hectic? Why can’t the celestial stars align in a more efficient way? With perfect timing, you know you’d get everything done with joy and smiles, like a greeting card.

But no. The holiday has to come when the kids are off from school, the weather is nasty, the house is disorganized, your pants don’t fit, your bills are piling up, the traffic is horrendous and you feel exhausted.
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Anxiety and Panic

7 Ways to Manage Mixed Emotions During the Holidays

As the holiday season is now in full swing, I can’t help but observe the swing of emotions -- mine and that of those all around me.

On one hand, there is the child-like delight of magical holiday lights and decorations. Regardless of a “bah hum bug” mindset, it is hard to deny the spectacular beauty of homes and businesses bedecked with twinkling lights.

If you have little ones and family in your life, there is the excitement, enthusiasm and anticipation of the magical appearance of gifts and delectable feasts.
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6 Ways to Beat Homesickness at Christmas

It's a Christmas thing. Even if you find yourself in the most beautiful corner of the Earth, you'll still feel a little lonely. After all, there's nothing like a festive season spent with one's friends and family.

Fortunately, there are some ways in which you can manage this sense of nostalgia. Here are some tips for beating homesickness when you're far away from home during Christmas:
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Addicted to Affluence

Many people mistake affluence for self-worth. You can buy what you want to buy. Live where you want to live. Own what you want to own. You’ve made it! What a worthy, wonderful person you are!

So how come you’re still feeling that it’s not enough? You bought what you wanted to buy. You feel great. Yet, a day later, rather than feeling pleased, you’re bored.

So, you rack up additional purchases on your favorite digital device. It’s so easy to shop these days. Or, tired of shopping, you plan another trip. You create another social event. And still it satisfies only for the moment.

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Designated Caregiver: Holiday Drinks and Mental Illness

Alcohol is a staple at the holiday table despite widespread tales of family dysfunction. The truth is social lubrication makes it a lot easier to deal with some of the more difficult people in our families. But when you add mental illness to the mix, you run bigger risks than a shouting match about politics or someone going home wearing the stuffing.

My older brother Pat was diagnosed with schizophrenia eight years ago this December. Drinking alcohol is not advisable on his medication. It makes him extremely drowsy. A few beers after taking his medication in 2007 and he passed out in the bathroom, slamming into the toilet and sliding it clean off the floor -- and he’s not a big guy.

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Strings Attached: When Gifts Aren’t Really Gifts

"The catch about not looking a gift horse in the mouth is that it may be a Trojan horse." - David Seller

Having recently gotten married, I received a lot of gifts from close friends and family. If there is anything I’ve learned it’s that some of these “presents” come with strings attached.

A gift is an act of altruism, of generosity. The point of gift-giving is to show love and appreciation for another person. It’s not about a dollar amount. It’s not about custom. It’s about being thoughtful -- an important thing to remember with the holidays fast approaching.

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Anxiety and Panic

Holiday Survival When Anxious or Depressed

For those of us who suffer from anxiety or depression, the holiday season can prove especially challenging. The juxtaposition of unhappy thoughts alongside the cheery Christmas music, nostalgic movies dripping with holiday sentimentality, and advertisements displaying jubilant people celebrating the season can make us feel even worse.

The American Psychological Association lists financial concerns, unrealistic expectations, and the inability to be with certain family members and friends as contributing factors to holiday anxiety. Mix in the stressors of shopping, family reunions, travel, office parties, and dealing with houseguests, and no wonder this seasonal “cheer” can be a landmine.

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Adult Children of Divorce: Getting Through the Holidays

Something like 50 percent of marriages end in divorce, but there’s a special group of us whose parents didn’t call it quits until we were adults. And with the holidays approaching, it’s a little different in our homes.

When people like me were in school, everyone else’s parents were getting divorced. We couldn’t wrap our heads around what that was like for them. Blake said his parents are fighting over him. Julie says she doesn’t have a whole room to herself at her mom’s house so she argues not to stay over there. Some kids were even shuffled around between maternal and paternal grandparents on weekends. Sometimes there was fighting. Sometimes there was palpable grief.

But in the end everyone got through it.

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6 Tips for Approaching the Holiday Season

For many of us, the holidays are stressful. Our stress might stem from having a narrow, rigid view of how the holidays are supposed to be, said Lea Seigen Shinraku, MFT, a therapist in private practice in San Francisco.

We might feel pressure, from ourselves and others, to have a joyful holiday. But we might not feel particularly joyful, or at least not all the time if our family isn’t close by or our relationship is complex, she said.

In fact, it’s not uncommon when you’re spending time with your family to “find yourself catapulted back in time, taking on roles and participating in dynamics that you may have believed you'd left behind,” Shinraku said.
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7 Tips for a Saner Holiday

As soon as autumn comes, people's thoughts begin to shift to the holidays, and sometimes those thoughts are accompanied by difficult emotions such as depression, frustration, and anxiety.

For some, the holidays conjure up unpleasant associations, such as the first event without Grandma there, or prickly family get-togethers. Then there are financial worries, the pressure to come up with gift ideas, dealing with school kids on vacation, to-do lists, and much more.
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