The Holidays 2017: Christmastime Worsens Depression of Some People, Experts Claim

REUTERS/Brian SnyderResidents dig out following a winter snow storm in the Boston suburb of Wakefield, Massachusetts, U.S. February 13, 2017. Some people suffer from SAD (seasonal affected disorder) at wintertime due to the lack of sunlight.

While Christmastime is dubbed as the most wonderful time of the year, experts claim that it may be the exact opposite for some people.

There is no denying that Christmastime is one of the most looked-forward-to dates of the year. Apart from the festive holiday decorations, sprawling gifts under the tree, and the sumptuous culinary creations on the dinner table, it is also the time of year when families gather for a joyous reunion. However, according to Dr. Toni Goodykoontz, assistant professor in the West Virginia University School of Medicine and medical director of the Chestnut Ridge Center Acute Adolescents Program, Christmastime can also worsen the depression that some people already feel.

Goodykoontz explained that symptoms of anxiety and depression are aggravated during the holidays, especially if someone has recently lost a loved one. In others, though, the condition only gets worse because of unrealistic expectations.

"There's this kind of fantasy or kind of Hallmark Channel sort of idea of what Christmas and holidays are like, where everyone gets along and problems always get worked out and solved. And, in fact, for many people, our lives aren't like that and things don't turn out like a holiday movie. When it doesn't measure up, as no one ever really does, there's a lot of guilt and disappointment," Julie Bozarth, director of therapy and social services at Highland-Clarksburg Hospital, said.

Apart from having recently lost a loved one and unrealistic expectations, Goodykoontz also points out that some people end up even more depressed during the holidays rather than feel happy because of painful memories of past Christmases. With the Christmas season happening at winter time, when the nights have become longer and sunlight is almost absent in many places, the increase in the number of people suffering from depression, especially the seasonally affected depression (SAD), is not really surprising.

However, those suffering from aggravated depression during the holidays are not powerless at all. While experts suggest that it is okay not to force themselves to be happy, being honest and getting support from friends or even the professionals will surely help tone down the blues.