Battling Holidays Depression

A young woman suffering from Holidays Depression

December and January can feel like a wall to wall celebration of joy and family and winter cheer. Take any stroll in any store over the winter months and you’re likely to be almost assaulted by plastered holiday decorations and a parade of jingles. For many people, the cheer inside is reflected everywhere they go by the merriment that’s displayed in nearly every public place during the beginning and end of the year. The idea of seeing family, curling up by the fire and giving back to their loved ones and their communities can make this time of year truly magical. But that’s not true for everyone. 

Holidays depression, also known as holiday blues or seasonal affective disorder (SAD), refers to a condition where individuals experience feelings of sadness, loneliness, or increased stress during the holiday season. Holidays depression doesn’t begin or end in any fixed period of the year. But this period often encompasses the latter part of the year, including Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukkah, New Year’s, and other festive occasions. 

Holidays depression has no single cause. It can result from a variety of factors, or nearly any combinations of factors. These factors include the following:

Reasons for holidays depression

  • 1) Increased Stress: The holiday season often brings added pressures such as financial strain due to gift-giving, hectic schedules, and meeting social obligations, leading to stress and anxiety.
  • 2) Loneliness or Isolation: For some individuals, the holidays can magnify feelings of loneliness, especially for those who are geographically separated from loved ones or have experienced loss.
  • 3) Unrealistic Expectations: People may feel pressure to create perfect, joyful experiences during the holidays. This can lead to stress and feelings of worthlessness.
  • 4) Seasonal Changes: In some cases, holiday depression might be associated with seasonal affective disorder (SAD), a type of depression triggered by reduced sunlight exposure during the winter months, leading to changes in mood and energy levels.
  • 5) Past Trauma or Loss: For those who have experienced trauma, loss of a loved one, or difficult memories associated with the holiday season, this time of year can be particularly challenging emotionally. This is completely normal and many people experience some range of negative emotions during this time of the year. For those experiencing significant feelings of psychic distress, it may be helpful to talk to someone.

What does Holidays Depression feel like?

Holidays depression, holiday blues, or seasonal affective disorder (SAD), can manifest in a variety of ways. Mental, emotional, and even physical well-being can all suffer during the shortest days of the year. Some common symptoms include:

  • Increased Anxiety or Stress: Heightened levels of anxiety, stress, or tension due to various holiday-related pressures, such as financial strain, social obligations, or increased workload.
  • Sense of Isolation or Loneliness: Feeling disconnected or isolated, especially if separated from loved ones or experiencing a lack of social support during the holiday season. It can feel like you’re living life on the inside of a fishbowl. Everyone else can seem bright and chipper, while you suffer in lonely silence. 
  • Changes in Sleep Patterns: Disruptions in sleep, such as insomnia or oversleeping, which may be caused by stress or changes in routine during the holidays.
  • Changes in Appetite or Weight: Fluctuations in appetite, leading to overeating or loss of appetite, which can contribute to changes in weight during the holiday period.
  • Loss of Interest in Activities: Decreased interest or pleasure in usual activities or hobbies that were once enjoyable.
  • Irritability or Agitation: Increased irritability, restlessness, or agitation, which might be exacerbated by stressors related to the holiday season.
  • Difficulty Concentrating: Challenges in concentrating or focusing, leading to decreased productivity or difficulty completing tasks.
  • Feelings of Guilt or Worthlessness: Experiencing feelings of guilt or worthlessness due to unmet expectations or comparing oneself to others during the holidays.
  • Physical Symptoms: Some individuals might experience physical symptoms such as headaches, muscle aches, or digestive issues associated with stress or emotional distress.
A man wearing a Santa hat. He's suffering from Holidays Depression.

Battling Holiday Depression 

Alleviating holiday depression involves a multifaceted approach that prioritizes self-care, realistic expectations, and fostering connections with others. There’s no silver bullet. But engaging in stress-relieving activities such as mindfulness exercises, deep breathing, or yoga can help manage anxiety and stress levels. Creating new, meaningful traditions or modifying old ones can infuse joy into the holiday season.

Seeking social support from friends, family, or support groups can provide comfort and a sense of belonging. It’s crucial to set boundaries, practice self-compassion, and prioritize self-care by getting enough sleep, eating healthily, and engaging in physical activity. By focusing on gratitude, embracing simplicity, and allowing for flexibility in holiday plans, individuals can navigate the season with greater ease and find moments of joy amidst the challenges of holiday depression.

But even if this all works, it can be helpful to…get help. 

Seeking support from mental health therapists (like the ones at NPAC) during the holiday season is crucial in addressing and counteracting holiday depression. Therapists provide a safe, non-judgmental space for individuals to explore their emotions, understand the root causes of their holiday-related distress, and develop coping strategies tailored to their specific needs. These professionals offer valuable guidance, tools, and techniques to manage stress, anxiety, and feelings of sadness commonly experienced during this time. 

Through therapy, individuals can learn effective ways to navigate challenging family dynamics, cope with grief or loneliness, set realistic expectations, and establish healthy boundaries. Therapists can also assist in reframing negative thought patterns and provide ongoing support that empowers individuals to build resilience, enhance self-awareness, and cultivate healthier ways of coping with holiday-related stressors, ultimately fostering emotional well-being and a more positive holiday experience. If you’re having trouble during the holiday season, you don’t need to suffer without salvation. Contact us, and get help today!

Get help today with Holiday Depression with the trained professionals at NPAC

In a society where stigma still shrouds neuropsychiatric disorders and addiction, the Neuro-Psychiatric Addiction Clinic is a safe haven. Here, our patients find a wealth of scientific knowledge, cutting-edge treatments, and a compassionate environment where their struggles are met with empathy and understanding. By choosing this clinic, people in need and their loved ones take a decisive step towards embracing a brighter future, one where the rays of hope and healing replace the shadows of addiction and neurological imbalance with a renewed sense of purpose.

Start your journey to wellness today at one of the nation’s leading addiction and mental health treatment facilities. Benefit from recovery in style with great people in a pleasant South Florida location. Call us at (888) 574 3506 or complete the form here. We are available 24/7 to answer any questions regarding our treatment programs.

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Samantha Kelly​

Director of National Business Development & Admissions Coordinator

I am a dedicated and passionate professional with extensive experience in business development Admissions and marketing. I have an incredible passion for showing others that there is a light at the end of this dark tunnel if someone truly wants it.
Being in recovery myself I understand the struggles of addiction and alcoholism. I Started this Career path in 2009. With multiple years of experience, I bring a multi-faceted approach and am always seeking new ways to make a difference in the lives of those I work with.

Kim L. Buckner

Facilitator

As a Substance Abuse Motivational Speaker, Pastor, Peer Advocate, and Facilitator. Kim helps clients avoid relapse by understanding their triggers. Those people, places and things that can cause craving, as well as internal triggers like feelings, thoughts, or emotions. Kim also clients with identifying and building healthy relationships now that they’re clean and sober.

Kim’s background includes extensive experience as a motivational speaker and work in faith-based organizations helping youth and adults alike. He says he is motivated by giving back to the community, understanding, and not judging who she comes into contact with. Kim’s favorite quote is by Dr. Raymond Johnson: “The respect given to others rebounds to the giver to deny the scared in the Other is to deny it in oneself.”

Caty Burns

Clinician

Caty graduated from Indiana University Bloomington in 2015 with a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and minors in Counseling and History. Throughout her undergrad, she worked at the local CASA program, supporting volunteers advocating for children who had experienced abuse and neglect. Caty worked for seven years at a community mental health center (CMHC), partnering with children, adults, and families.

During those seven years, she taught life and coping skills as well as behavior management, provided case management and peer recovery services, and facilitated treatment teams that included the client, family, providers, and community members. I have also worked at an IOP providing group therapy services. She is currently working towards my Master of Social Work.

In her free time, Caty enjoys reading, especially historical fiction, spending time outdoors and having movie nights with her family. Disney World is her happy place, and she dreams of living among the elephants.

Madison Knowles

Mental Health Therapist

My name is Madison Knowles, I am a Mental health therapist at NPAC. I am a single-mother of two and I have a daughter who is globally delayed and has been diagnosed with autism. I have been in this industry since I was 16 years old, as I was fascinated with human behavior. I obtained my masters in applied behavioral analysis and started off working with people with disabilities. I then found my love for counseling when I worked with juveniles who had mental health and substance use issues. I then decided to go back for my mental health therapy license after that and working in a forensic treatment center. I went on to obtain my therapy credentials and since 2017, I have also been working on my PhD in forensic psychology in which I am currently working on my dissertation. I am inspired by change and how resilient people can be. My favorite inspirational quote is “Some will, Some won’t, So what, NEXT!!!” This quote has inspired me to try, try, and try again no matter how hard life gets, someone will give you a chance eventually. As a therapist at NPAC, I have been given the opportunity to work with diverse populations such as in substance use and mental health and I am known for my work with people on the schizophrenic spectrum as well as with other clients with other severe conditions including personality disorders.

Megan Carmona, LMHC

Lead Therapist

Our Lead Therapist, Megan, is a bilingual Licensed Mental Health Counselor who specializes in working with adults who struggle with addiction, anxiety, depression, and trauma. As Lead Therapist, she provides individual, family, and group therapy sessions to our clients.  Megan says “I am very passionate about therapy, especially about supporting my clients in exploring their strengths and identity. My goal is to provide individuals with the tools that can help them achieve independence in coping with their challenges and facilitating personal development.” In her free time, Megan enjoys watching docu-series and playing video games with her family. Her dream is to own acres of land so she can care for vulnerable animals, especially old dogs, cats, and horses. 

Kristen Bensley

Primary Clinician

As Primary Clinician, Kristen works with all aspects of our clinical team, from case management to primary therapy.  She has broad experience working in the mental health field. Prior to joining our team at the Neuro Psychiatric Addiction Clinic, Kristen was part of the team awarded the Evernorth Behavioral Health Center of Excellence Designation by Cigna. She says her motivation is to help people rediscover who they are and become excited about the future and all the possibilities life offers. Kristen’s favorite quote is: “You can’t go back and change the beginning, but you can start where you are and change the ending.”

Ronn Daigle, MSW

Therapist, Utilization Review Clinician

Ronn Daigle services as a Therapist and Utilization Review Clinician at the Neuro Psychiatric Addiction Clinic. He has been working in the field of substance use disorder treatment since 2011, with experience in all facility-based levels of care. Ronn earned, both an Associate of Arts in Psychology (2013) and Bachelor of Science in Human Services, with an Addiction Studies Concentration (2015) from Indian River State College. 

Ronn additionally earned a Master of Social Work degree in 2021 and is a current Registered Clinical Social Work Intern working toward licensure (LCSW). He describes himself as detail oriented, and solution focused.

Ronn says: “There is nothing more fulfilling than working with someone who doesn’t believe in himself or herself, and being there in the moment with them when the belief begins. We work with individuals who come to us at a point and time in their respective lives where they do not believe that change for others is possible; let alone for themselves…throughout the process they eventually come to a point where they realize that change is not only possible, but achievable.”

Erika Melecio, LMHC, MCAP, CEI

Assistant Clinical Director

Erika Melecio, LMHC, MCAP, CEI is the Assistant Clinical Director at Neuropsychiatric Addiction Clinic who specializes in the treatment of LGBTQ, addiction, as well as mental health disorders ranging from depression and anxiety, to Bipolar Disorder, trauma, personality disorders, psychotic disorders, and eating disorders. Erika utilizes a number of modalities including Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Solution Focused Therapy, Motivational Interviewing, Dialectical Behavioral Therapy, and Mindfulness amongst others. Erika has been in practice for close to a decade and has earned her license in Mental Health Counseling, as well as being a Master’s Certified Addiction Professional. Erika has worked with many individuals including couples counseling and family therapy, and is fluent in Spanish.
 
Throughout my years of practice, one of the things I enjoy helping people find is inner peace. Whether you are in the deepest parts of depression, overrun by your anxiety, controlled by your addiction, or there are certain issues in your life that are negatively impacting your ability to function, and have a happy, healthy life, maybe now is the time to talk about it. I am a big believer in empowerment, working hard in therapy, and utilizing different techniques to help you regain that inner peace that may have been lost along the way. I want to work with you as a team because with two people, absolutely everything is possible. I want to be there as a therapist, to help build you up, support you, but also help you be honest with yourself and accountable. At the end of the day, when all is said and done, my biggest goal for you is going to be simple….for you to no longer need my services. Why? Because if you no longer need my services, it means that you have regained your peace, you have regained your strength, you have regained your confidence. It means that you now have the tools to address any issues that try to derail you, and best of all, you will have the insight to overcome and thrive. So let’s begin this journey together, and get you to the place you want to be, emotionally, mentally, psychologically, and in your sobriety.

Aurelio Ayuso, MSW, LCSW, CAP, ICADC

Clinical Director

Aurelio has worked with those that suffer from the disease of addiction in adults and juveniles alike for over 10 years, beginning in the United States Navy where he proudly served for 20 years, working with those that were succumbed by addiction due to trauma and continuing his passion for helping those in need locally in Central Florida.

He specializes in both Addictions and Trauma, he has worked first as a therapist then as the clinical supervisor to both the Juvenile and Adult Drug Court programs in Brevard County. Aurelio has been instrumental in developing substance abuse treatment programs directly tailored to help those that also suffer from complex trauma due to their addiction. He has been recognized by several organizations for his forward thinking and ability to tailor treatment to individuals in the most restrictive environments.

Mr. Ayuso received his Graduate Degree in Clinical Social Work from the University of Central Florida in Orlando. He is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker as well as Certified Addictions Professional in the State of Florida, and Internationally Certified Alcohol & Drug Counselor. Aurelio specializes in the treatment of Addiction, Trauma, and Abandonment using strength based strategies deeply rooted in Solution Focused, and Mindfulness Therapies. At the Neuropsychiatric Addiction Clinic he passionately develops holistic curriculums that foster the belief that through addressing the mind, body, and spirit together, the Disease of Addiction can be addressed successfully.

Robert Lehmann, MHSA

Chief Operating Officer

Bob Lehmann is the Chief Operating Officer at the Neuro Psychiatric Addiction Clinic. He has a Master’s Degree in Human Services Administration with a concentration in Mental Health Administration and over twenty-five years of experience as a senior executive at addiction and mental health treatment facilities.

One of the reasons for his commitment to excellence in addiction treatment was his experience related to family members who suffered from the disease of addiction. Bob has been actively involved in community organizations throughout his career. Recently he was one of the founders of the Florida Addiction Treatment Coalition (FATC) and is its present Vice President. FATC was designed to bring together treatment executives in Florida to advocate on behalf of treatment facilities and the clients they serve adhering to a foundation of integrity and service excellence.

Jose R. Toledo, M.D.

Medical Director

A well-rounded and accomplished individual, Jose R. Toledo, M.D., is the Medical Director of Neuro Psychiatric Addiction Clinic.

Dr. Toledo is a neurologist with 25 years of experience and has been in private practice since 1991 on the Treasure Coast of Florida. He completed his neurology training at the State University of New York and his Fellowship training at the University of Pittsburgh in Epilepsy and Clinical Neurophysiology.

He also completed 24 months of acute inpatient psychiatry at the Western Missouri Mental Health Center, University of Missouri in Kansas City. In 2008, Dr. Toledo participated in and was certified in the continuing medical education activity entitled “Buprenorphine and Office-Based Treatment of Opioid Dependence” from The Medical University of South Carolina during which began his quest to found and head Neuropsychiatric Addiction Clinic.

Dr. Toledo is a brain specialist with particular competence in addiction medicine and out-patient detoxification treatment and integrates the fields seamlessly. He is certified to prescribe Buprenorphine (Suboxone). He incorporates his background in neurology into the addiction field. Dr. Toledo is member/fellow of The American Medical Association, The Florida Medical Association and The American Society of Addiction Medicine