6 Tips to Handle Depression During the Holidays

The holidays can be stressful for anyone, but for people with depression, the time between Thanksgiving and New Year’s can destabilize and sometimes debilitate.


Stress-related events, such as the holidays, may trigger half of all depressive episodes. The good news is that knowing how to avoid common triggers can prevent an episode from occurring.

“A relapse prevention plan is key,” said Dr. John Langlow, M.D., Medical Director of New Directions Behavioral Health®. “You can do a lot to lower the risk of relapse if you plan ahead, monitor your well-being and take action steps when needed.”

New Directions offers tips to help prevent depression during the holiday season.

1. Know your limits
Delegate what you can’t handle. Hosting parties, attending events and buying presents can overload nerves. It’s OK to ask for help or forgo a festivity.

2. Stay connected
If you don’t feel well, you might be tempted to isolate yourself. Being alone can make you feel worse. Socializing raises the oxytocin levels in your brain, which improves your mood.

3. Remember your meds
Schedules often go out the window during the holiday season, so it’s easy to forget to take your medication. Ask a friend or family member, or set up an electronic alert, to remind you when it’s time to take your medication.

4. Reduce or skip the holiday toasts
Drink too much and your medication stops working. Downing more than two drinks a day can prevent your meds from helping you.

5. Get out in nature
Fresh air, sunshine and exercise are nature’s medication. Serotonin and dopamine are chemicals produced in the brain that improve mood and protect against mental health disorders. Exposure to sunlight boosts serotonin, and exercise stimulates your dopamine release. Lace up your sneakers, head outdoors and watch your mood soar.

6. Program your speed dial
Talking to someone you trust is key to taming holiday stress. Whether it’s your therapist, best friend or loving family member, reach out during the holidays. A calming, confident voice is your biggest ally when you feel yourself unraveling.

One of the fastest growing behavioral health care companies in the nation, New Directions helps people live healthy, balanced lives by providing behavioral health care services, Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs), organizational consulting and health coaching programs. For more information, visit ndbh.com.

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