Alejandra Gutierrez, LCSW

Seasonal Depression and Loneliness during the Holidays

The Holidays set High Expectations

Somewhere around pumpkin seasons we get a steady stream (assault?) of the “happiest time of the year.” Families dance and prance around kitchen islands and seem to be filled with joy. The families look perfect. Everything looks so tidy and shiny. It’s easy to covet the beautiful lives we see on screen. When the commercial passes and the soft glow of the tv fades your focuses shifts back to your own home. If you’re like most of us, it doesn’t measure up. It’s a constant comparison. You’re supposed to be so happy during the holidays and why? Just because its December and seasonal depression is at a peak? Its okay to struggle throughout the holidays and self care looks like giving yourself permission to connect authentically with yourself during this season.

The Holidays get Complicated

If you’re in a 2 parent home with 2.5 kids and extended families who get along perfectly. This part won’t apply to you. Holidays highlight the messiness of family dynamics. If you have children from a previous relationship, if you’re part of a blended family or in that weird phase of the relationship where you don’t know if its too soon for holidays things get complicated.

The roles and relationships can get unclear. You may be struggling with an ex partner to decide who gets what holidays.

The Holidays are Lonely

This may be your first holiday without kids. This may be your first relationship single after a messy divorce. Or maybe you’re just feeling a general sense of loneliness as you watch friends and families bask in the light of their relationships and community. This time of year has a way of highlighting the lonely parts.

Holidays Hold Memories

For some, even if the present holds joy. The holidays bring painful memories. It’s the one time a year where family gathers. If you have had trauma or wounding attached to your family of origin family gatherings can bring you back into the present moment. You may find yourself struggling with things you thought were resolved. If your family has changed. If old faces are no longer present and new faces have arrived it can be tough to transition.

Seeking help during the holidays

It may seem counterintuitive, but I can be helpful to seek support during the holidays. As buried feelings surface and as you face difficult conversations having support in a non judgmental environment can make all the difference.