Lately I’ve talked with two different Christian women friends who shared that they become deeply depressed during the holidays–that period between Thanksgiving and Christmas, when so many people are joyful and excited, planning and cooking a big family meal, shopping, buying and wrapping Christmas gifts, and attending or hosting parties. These friends said they just want it over with as soon as possible!
One friend cited the reason being that her dreams of a happy family have been shattered, after her husband left her for another woman, had a child with the mistress, and then divorced her, the wife. Although she makes an effort for the sake of her children to beautifully decorate the Christmas tree and their home’s rooms each year, she said their expensive, nice house feels empty and lonely without her husband there to celebrate with her and their kids.
The second friend, also divorced (her husband had an affair and was addicted to drugs), said that she feels she and her children don’t “fit in anywhere” when so many families are sitting together happily around the Christmas tree to open presents. Conversations with her aging, ailing father and her emotionally distant brothers are strained at restaurants eating a “holiday meal,” and she feels that she is imposing, asking to be with friends at their family gatherings.
My friend also wonders if she has Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), related to changes in seasons. Researchers have yet to uncover the specific cause for SAD, but the reduction in sunlight in winter can throw your biological clock out of whack and reduce levels of serotonin (a brain chemical that regulates your mood) and melatonin (a chemical which regulates sleep and mood).
It’s not always “the most wonderful time of the year.” Many people struggle with depression and stress during the holidays.
While the suicide rate is highest between April and August rather than the holidays, there are findings from surveys that people feel more stress, anxiety, and depression between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day, according to Psychology Today.
Thirty-eight percent of people surveyed said their stress level increased during the holiday season, according to Psychology Today. Participants listed the top stressors as lack of time, lack of money, commercialism, the pressures of gift-giving, and family gatherings.
Another poll of more than 1,000 adults by a global investment company, Principal Financial Group, found that 53 percent of people experience financial stress due to holiday spending, despite the fact more than half set budgets for their holiday spending.
As Christian believers, we know that Christmas is supposed to be about celebrating the birth of our Savior Jesus Christ, yet how many of us succumb to the pressure of spending lots of money on food and gifts at this time of year?
In fact, holiday retail sales in 2018 surpassed $1 trillion, and Americans spent an average of $1,536 during the Christmas holidays in 2018! INSANE! And 14.2% of Americans sell possessions to fund their Christmas shopping! No wonder people get depressed and stressed!
The holidays are a stressful time for everyone. But for recovering addicts, or those struggling with an active addiction, the holidays can cause a relapse.
The same issues of money, family, and general stress are amplified for the addict. Addicts without a stable family or friends often feel alone, isolated, and bored, which can drive addictive behavior.
Recovery is possible for the alcoholic/addict. One beautiful place offering treatment for addiction and co-occurring mental health disorders is The Recovery Village at Palmer Lake, Colorado, near Colorado Springs.
One thing which struck me about this place is that they have walking trails, an on-site gym for working out, and they offer equine therapy for clients to work with horses.
Their 110-bed, clean, safe facility near the Colorado Rockies with luxurious rooms has a team of medical and clinical professionals to help adults get freedom from addiction and to live healthier, happier lives. They are a member of the National Association of Addiction Treatment Providers.
You can see a virtual tour of the facility here.
If you are struggling with addiction and/or depression, stress, and anxiety, especially during the holidays, consider a treatment facility like The Recovery Village. Other sources for help for you are below. Remember, you are not alone!
Al-Anon (family members or friends of alcoholics/addicts)
Narcotics Anonymous (substance abuse addiction)
Teen Challenge ( Christian faith-based corporations intended to help teenagers, adults, and families with problems such as substance abuse or self-destructive behavior)