Distress during the holidays

An honest conversation about what burdens us can be the best gift

Pre-holiday and holidays are times of joy and socialization for many of us, but for some people this can be a time of increased loneliness, anxiety, and depression.

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During these times, distress in vulnerable individuals can be exacerbated. Frequently, this is connected to commonly held ideas about how the holidays should be a time of happiness and that we should look forward to life, enjoying our time with others.

If we are stressed or already have symptoms of depression or anxiety, it is more difficult for us to experience feelings of joy during the holidays.

At the same time, distress can be caused by estranged relationships with those near and dear to us. This can be the case with the elderly, patients with chronic disease, homeless people, and others that are more isolated already during the year. Common messages during the holidays like those of happiness, closeness, and socializing can cause even greater feelings of being pushed aside, loneliness, and anxiety.

Bereaved people are especially vulnerable

During the holidays, those who have recently lost someone due to death, divorce, separation, or other reasons are especially vulnerable to distress. Similar feelings can also appear when we lose a pet. All of these situations interrupt the established patterns in our lives and our family rituals.

Missing a loved one is a very intense feeling and can bring about feelings of loneliness. Relatives can play an important role in easing these feelings by helping the bereaved individual feel important and valued.

Suicide rates increase only slightly

In December, there is only a slight increase in the suicide rate, which is less than we might expect. However, in the spring time the increase in the number of suicides is much higher.

Nevertheless, by monitoring the number of calls to crisis phone lines and the number of views on distress help web pages, we see an increase in the number of individuals expressing distress during the holidays.

An honest conversation can be the best gift

The majority of people who are thinking about suicide are trying to overcome their distress. However, it is difficult for them to find a solution alone, because unknowingly they forget about constructive ways of coping with situations. They perceive things that occur to them in a negative manner and as being unfair (we wrote more about that here). Therefore, it is important that other people are there to help and support the person in distress. For example, they can help the distressed person look for healthy solutions to improve their wellbeing.

Holidays can be a good opportunity to offer your time and attention to someone in need. An honest conversation about our burdens (and pleasures) can be the best present.

Media can help with positive messages

Media reports are extremely important in this time period and can relieve people from excessive expectations. Those who are in need of help can benefit from media messages on ways to help themselves and where to seek help. In this manner we have prepared a short, media press release. For more information please contact us.

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