The festive season is a time of rejoicing for many but can plunge others into deep depression, not least because daylight hours are so short and the chill gets into the bones.
Add the financial burdens of Christmas spending, fatigue from heavy drinking and other factors and the result is a recipe for gloom.
The slog starts in early December, when parties with coworkers and friends require heavy drinking and irregular hours. Some people get depressed just at the thought of having to buy expensive gifts they can ill afford, while others look back on a year’s worth of failure to achieve their goals.
Failure to stem the downward spiral can trigger social isolation and potential mental illnesses and, in serious cases, even lead to suicide.
An effective way to deal with depression is to maintain close and meaningful ties with friends and offer support to each other. Another is to set realistic goals for the new year, and not to dwell excessively on past failures.
Psychologists advise prioritizing tasks and maintaining a balance between work and play. Heavy drinking only makes things worse, so drink in moderation.
Better to keep busy writing Christmas cards and New Year's greetings or prepare small but meaningful gifts to family and friends.
Making donations during the holiday season helps boost morale, so look for ways to volunteer and engage in other charitable acts.
Most important is getting enough sleep at regular hours. If the lack of light becomes a burden, try light therapy for seasonal affective disorder. And if all else fails, seek help from psychiatrists or other mental health professionals.