Updated 22 December 2016

Not feeling the festive season? You are not alone

Christmas is fun and family time, or so everyone would have you believe. This isn’t the case for everybody. Far from it.


Some of the things that depress people at Christmas include the commercialisation of Christmas, excessive self-reflection, unrealistic expectations, debt incurred over this season, and social gatherings with family or friends they might not feel like seeing, according to Psychology Today.

But interestingly enough, according to the National Institutes of Health (US), although the general mood (and feelings of loneliness and anxiety) of many people may be worse over Christmas.

With the abuse of alcohol and other substances, there is a reduction of admissions to psychiatric facilities over this period, as well as lower-than-normal suicides or suicide attempts in many countries the world over. Incidents of self-harming behaviour also decrease.

Read more: How to avoid stress and depression over Christmas

Suicide in SA

But, in South Africa, however, the month of December as a whole has the highest suicide rate of the year, according to Ms Zane Wilson, founder of the South African Depression and Anxiety Group.

But while Christmas itself may have a low suicide rate, in the days following Christmas, according to a Danish study from 1999, there is a 40 percent increase in suicide attempts.

So what should one do if one feels depressed or suicidal over this time? Mayo Clinic recommends calling a 24-hour helpline, seeing your doctor, psychologist or psychiatrist, or reaching out to a friend or loved one as a start.

Read more:

Pets a great help to people with depression

Excessive sweating linked to anxiety and depression

When should you see a psychologist?


Ask the Expert

Depression expert

Michael Simpson has been a senior psychiatric academic, researcher, and Professor in several countries, having worked at London University in the UK; McMaster University in Canada; Temple University in Philadelphia, USA.; and the University of Natal in South Africa.

Still have a question?

Get free advice from our panel of experts

The information provided does not constitute a diagnosis of your condition. You should consult a medical practitioner or other appropriate health care professional for a physical exmanication, diagnosis and formal advice. Health24 and the expert accept no responsibility or liability for any damage or personal harm you may suffer resulting from making use of this content.

* You must accept our condition

Forum Rules