It's a common misconception that suicides increase around the holidays, but springtime is actually considered peak season for suicides in the United States.
Depression may occur at any time of the year, but the stress and anxiety during the months of November and December may cause even those who are generally content to experience loneliness and a lack of fulfillment.
Many factors, including unrealistic expectations, financial pressures, and grieving the loss of a loved one can cause stress and anxiety during holiday season.
My mother, Helen Thomas was murdered in June of 1975 during an armed robbery in our home in Harlem, New York. Even though I was only 7 at the time, I knew that my life would never be quite the same. Since this tragic event, I have been clinically diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Please keep in mind, depression is common in men and women with PTSD as well as other Anxiety disorders.
After my mother's death, I was raised by my maternal grandmother in Maxton, North Carolina (Robeson County) which is a rural community between Charlotte and Wilmington.
Although my grandmother did all within her power to make my first holiday season in North Carolina a memorable one, the grief that I felt overshadowed the delicious Thanksgiving dinner and the plethora of Christmas presents. All I wanted was for my mother to return; unfortunately, that never happened.
It seems just like yesterday when my mother and I were in Central Park walking around and all of a sudden it started pouring down rain. After we found a safe haven from the rain, I began crying because my clothes were wet. Being that my mom knew I despised getting wet, she began laughing at me and gave me the warmest hug that I ever received.
Shortly after the rain stopped, the sun reappeared and I began to smile because the rain was finally gone. Whenever I start feeling sad during the holidays, I prefer to focus on this special moment with my mother, rather than dwell on my loss.
Don't get me wrong, losing a loved one can be very devastating, however, the sun will reappear. Your days will seem brighter and your life will continue, even if it's never quite the same.
Coping with Holiday Depression
Talk to your doctor if you are feeling sad for long periods of time. They can refer you to a mental health specialist. If your feelings of sadness during the holidays are accompanied by suicidal thoughts, do one of the following immediately:
•Go immediately to a hospital emergency room
•Contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255). Current and former service members, use this same number and press 1 to reach the Veterans Crisis Line
Also, you can improve your mood by practicing self-care during the holidays. Eat a healthy diet, and maintain a regular sleep pattern and exercise program. According to the kept Primary Care Companion to the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, as little as 30-minutes of cardiovascular exercise can provide an immediate mood boost similar to the effects of an antidepressant medication.
Below are more valuable resources:
National Hopeline Network
Trevor Project: 1- 866-488-7386 (24/7) providing crisis intervention and suicide prevention services to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning youth.
Substance Abuse and MH Services Administration
(SAMHSA's) National Helpline 1-800-662-HELP (4357)
Military One Source 1-800-342-9647