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We’re getting into the colder months of the year. The sun is setting earlier. There are more clouds. This is a time of year when many people all around NYC start to struggle with “Seasonal Affective Disorder,” also called “Seasonal Depression” or “SAD” – a type of depression that is caused, at least in part, by a lack of sunlight.

Seasonal affective disorder is a very real condition. It is linked to a change in chemicals in the brain that occur when the days are shorter and there is less time spent outside. It is treatable, especially with therapy, but it is also based largely on external factors that are outside of a person’s control.

But while seasonal depression is real, not all depression around this time of year is caused by SAD. Some of it is caused by other things, and one of those things is often family issues that are related to the holidays.

Why the Holidays Can Cause Depressive Symptoms

Seasonal depression may be the cause of your negative feelings. But it could also be related to issues that simply occur around this time. For example:

  • Those that are estranged from their families often experience sadness or depression during the holidays. It’s not uncommon for this time of year to bring back these difficult memories, or cause feelings of loneliness knowing that your family is not around.
  • Holidays can be a time of immense pressure for different families – having guests, organizing parties, buying gifts, quickly finishing off work vacations, etc. These can also lead to negative emotions that may be difficult to handle.
  • The holidays can be expensive. Financial stress and pressure is another potential cause of anxiety and depression that can show up during the holiday season.
  • Some people have experienced trauma during the holidays. Few seasons have so many consistent reminders of these types of traumas as Thanksgiving and Christmas.
  • If you’ve experienced loss, especially of someone close to you that you used to see over the holidays, that can also cause this time period to be one that is heavy and potentially stressful.

These are all examples of issues that can cause depression that are related – both directly and indirectly – to the holiday season, but are not specifically “Seasonal Depression.” 

Depression Treatment in NYC – Knowing the Signs

Both seasonal affective disorder and holiday-related depression are treatable conditions. But it is important to know the difference, as doing so can help guide treatment and make sure that you’re getting the help you need. 

If you feel the “holiday blues,” call Flourish Psychology today. Our depression therapists in Brooklyn will help determine the cause of your winter depression, and find solutions that will address your needs and struggles.

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