Depression during the holidays: How to support your loved ones

The MIND 24-7 Team | November 27, 2023

Holiday depression is something many people face. Although the holidays are portrayed as joyful, the season can spark or worsen other feelings such as stress, overwhelm, grief, and sadness. When a loved one is affected by depression during the holidays, it can be difficult to understand what they are going through or know what to do to help. At MIND 24-7, we understand the importance of coming together and supporting one another, especially during tough times. With information, understanding, and resources, everyone can be a great source of support for loved ones struggling with depression during the holidays. 

What are the signs of depression during the holidays?

When depression hits, it can impact how a person feels and goes through daily life, but the specifics vary widely from person to person. For someone who struggles with depression throughout the year, the holidays may make it worse. In fact, in a study by The National Alliance on Mental Illness, 64% of people with a mental illness said the holidays make their conditions worse. Others may gradually or suddenly begin to face depression. While depression is often thought of as overwhelming sadness, it is an incredibly complex mental illness. Here are some signs of depression: 

  • Feelings of sadness, emptiness, worthlessness, or hopelessness
  • Irritability or angry outbursts
  • Anxiety or restlessness
  • Loss of interest or enjoyment in most or all activities they previously enjoyed
  • Sleeping too much or too little
  • Tiredness and low energy
  • Drastic changes in appetite
  • Slower speech or body movements
  • Difficulty concentrating, making decisions, or remembering things
  • A reluctance to talk about the future
  • Frequent discussions of death 

During the holidays, someone with depression might decline party invitations to stay at home alone. They may seem disinterested in traditions they used to love and talk a lot about their regrets. 

How do you support a loved one dealing with holiday depression?

If a loved one is struggling with holiday depression, there are several ways to approach and communicate with them. 

  1. Reach out – The simple act of reaching out to someone to say hello and ask how they are doing is meaningful. 
  2. Listen with empathy – If they want to talk, listen. Set judgment aside and simply let them express their feelings and thoughts. Sometimes, just having someone who listens with empathy can make a significant difference.  
  3. Be present – Resist the urge to fix and just be there with them. Provide comfort and support by spending quality time together. 
  4. Validate feelings – Avoid dismissing feelings or suggesting that they “get over it.” Acknowledge that the holiday season can be hard, and it’s okay not to feel happy or joyful. 
  5. Be thankful – Let them know they are appreciated and valued. 
  6. Help with practical tasks – Depression can make it hard to do basic things or accomplish items on the to-do list. Offer to help with daily and holiday tasks to relieve a bit of the burden. 
  7. Encourage professional help – No one needs to face holiday depression on their own, and getting the proper treatment can help. 

Holiday depression resources to share

Holiday depression can take its toll on many people. People with holiday depression, as well as families and friends of those with depression, can all benefit from some extra support. Note these resources and keep them in an accessible place: 

For help over the phone, through texting, or online, use one of these resources: 

For walk-in mental healthcare in the greater Phoenix area, visit MIND 24-7. At MIND 24-7, we are here for everyone this holiday season. We are open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, every day of the year, even holidays. We treat adults, children, or adolescents who need help, regardless of their ability to pay. 

Through Express care, we offer walk-in mental health services for patients who want to see a certified professional and quickly be on their way. Through Crisis care, we provide walk-in emergency treatment for children and adults. Through Progressions, we provide ongoing individual and group counseling and peer support for patients for up to 90 days. Our mental health care services include physical and psychiatric evaluation, medication review and refill, care planning, referrals, and lab services (when needed).

If you or a loved one needs mental health care this holiday season, just walk into a MIND 24-7 clinic. You can be seen the same day—you won’t have to wait days or weeks. Visit one of our convenient locations in the Phoenix area or text/call 1-844-MIND247 (1-844-646-3247).