GOLDEN VALLEY, Minn. - The holidays are supposed to be jolly, but that isn't the case for everyone. The holidays can be a real trigger for anyone that struggles with a mental health issue like depression.
“Family gatherings can be more difficult if you're not feeling like yourself, to show up and put on a happy face, especially if that's not how you're feeling inside,” says Park Nicollet psychotherapist Emily Bulthuis.
Bulthuis says this time of the year can be tough for two reasons.
“One, we have holiday-related stressors and all of those can impact the likelihood that someone is going to have some trouble with mood, but also, wintertime is when seasonal affective disorder, or what's clinically known as Major Depressive Disorder with a seasonal pattern, is more likely to occur,” Bulthuis says.
She says maneuvering the season is all about having realistic expectations for yourself and ramping up that self-care.
“Making sure that you're engaging in activities that fill you up as a person, even if it's not what everybody else wants you to do. That might be disappearing on a walk by yourself when there's a big party going on because that's what's going to help you feel rejuvenated. So, really focusing on yourself,” she says.
If you're experiencing depression, you're not alone. Bulthuis says up to 350 million people may be experiencing it worldwide. She says, if you see a counselor or therapist, this might be a good time of the year to check in with them, and always know there's help.
“There are so many reasons to have hope in getting treatment for any mental health issue, especially depression. We have so many different treatment options,” says Bulthuis.
If you're looking for a mental health professional to talk to you can go directly to a therapist, or your primary care doctor can refer you to someone.