The festive season is usually a time of joy and celebration, but for many it is the one time of the year where they can no longer run away from two “uninvited guests” … stress and depression. On this week’s episode of Sisters Without Shame, Paarl-based clinical psychologist Luc Scheepers shares some tips for coping with stress, anxiety and depression during the festive season.
According to Scheepers, seasonal depression is classified as a subtype of major depressive disorder. “Major depressive disorder is quite common amongst the population, it is said that up to 40% of the world population will at some point experience a depressive episode.”
Seasonal depression or festive funk?
Scheepers says that the festive season is known to produce intense emotions in people and might even exacerbate existing mental health conditions. We should be wary when self-diagnosing a festive funk as a mental disorder.
“Things [feelings of intense sadness/hopelessness] are only mental disorders when the symptoms cause clinical or functional impairment,” he says.
In Mzansi, intense feelings or depressive episodes are sparked by associations and expectations during this time of year.
How to deal
While depressive episodes can occur at any time of the year, the stress and anxiety during the months of November and December may cause even those who are usually content, to experience loneliness and a lack of fulfilment.
If work is a stressor, then you should prioritise rest during this time of the year, he says.
Scheepers says, “It is normal to feel not-so merry during the holiday season. How do we prevent it? Firstly we can focus on good planning. If you know that your work year is going to be challenging and stressful, make a point of planning your holiday in advance.
“Beware of waking up to the reality of the holiday when November comes. Have a holiday plan in place and prioritise rest and play in your planning.”
Listen to the full interview on Sisters Without Shame
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