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rojo's avatar

Why is there a lot of depression and stress around Christmas?

Asked by rojo (13837 points ) December 20th, 2012

Is it because we cannot live up to our own expectations of how we are supposed to feel?
What are your thoughts on it?

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21 Answers

Blackberry's avatar

Succumbing to marketing ane advertising. Theoretically, there would be less to worry about if people weren’t expecting tangible goods.

janbb's avatar

For me right now it is about the loss of loved ones and the distance from my children. Memories of lovely times in the past are bringing me down.

bookish1's avatar

@Blackberry: I’m not expecting any tangible goods; moreover, I am very critical of advertising and seek to minimize my exposure to it.

I still feel down because this will be my first Christmas alone, and all my friends have already left town.

Pandora's avatar

So many things can bring about depression
.
1.Not having someone special to share it with because you have no close family or friends.
2.Missing someone special because they past or live far as @janbb has mentioned.
3.Being unemployed or not making enough money to even afford a decent meal.
4. Being homeless.
5. Feeling cold and you suffer from arthritis or other conditons that are agitated by the cold.
6. The shorter day hours combined with the cold
7. Being sick or feeling sick.
8. All these things are made worse when you see others who live in abundance and you couldn’t even buy one little inexpensive gift for someone you love because you are that broke or because you realize you have no one to even buy a gift for.

For many people xmas is a huge reminder of the things lacking in their lives.
And there are the other people who simply feel let down as you suggested. They remember the joy Xmas once was when they where young and only see it for what it is. One giant commercial. And for those who still like to remember it as a time to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ and remember the sacrifice he made, it is painful to see he is the last thing on most people mind.

wundayatta's avatar

It is the time of year that causes both depression and Christmas. It is not Christmas that causes depression.

It mostly has to do with the darkness. A lot of people are brought down by the lack of light. I think part of the reason that we have winter celebrations is an attempt to counteract the lack of light. That’s why we string lights up all over the place, and in times before electricity, there were probably lots of bonfires and perhaps even fireworks, if they had them.

Of course, there is a lot of drinking to counteract depression. People think that booze makes them happy, but it is actually a depressant, so it is counter productive. Still, initially, it makes people feel more cheerful. It also limits their inhibitions and makes it possible for people to hook up more readily, and sex and love do counter depression. Hmm. Wonder if there are a lot of September babies?

But I think it is biological. Depression is biological. Darkness contributes to it very strongly. We seek out light. We seek out each other. We drink. We eat (although a lot of that has to do with eating up everything we’ve saved before it gets too bad to eat). We make love. We keep doing this until our supplies run out.

Of course, nowadays, we are so rich, we can take vacations to warm places with more sun. So instead of famine in January and February and March, we go to Florida. Except for poor people.

JLeslie's avatar

I think for some it is because their childhood Christmases (Christmas’, Christmasi?) were so over the top amazing, and they magic goes away when we grow up, unless they have young children of their own experiencing their same magic.

Being alone on Christmas can be depressing for many people. It’s not only being alone, it is knowing other people are not alone and out having a good time. I think people who are depressed because they are alone idealize what is going on in other people’s homes at Christmas. Don’t get me wrong, I am not saying Christmas actually sucks or something like that, but really, why is that day any different than any other day when the family can be together? If you are together you are together, whatever day of the year. But, people have an expectation to be together on Christmas.

Being alone because someone is basically alone in life, no family, few or no friends, becomes magnified on Christmas. It is more in your face thatyou are disconnected, and human being need human connections.

Having expectations for the holidays not met. Like my MIL thinks and wants all her children and grandchildren to “come home” for Christmas, and that does not always happen. She will probably be depressed to some extent during this December and January.

@wundayatta I think darkness does contribute, but my MIL is in Delray Beach, FL. Part of the world is in the southern hemisphere or close to the equator even in the northern hemisphere. It’s pretty sunny and warm in many of those places.

rojo's avatar

@JLeslie I can relate to your first paragraph. My wife and I were in the “Why bother” mood re: decorating for the holidays since the kids are grown and we would be elsewhere on the 25th. but decided we would at least put up the tree. My 6 y.o. granddaughter showed up about the time the tree went up and we had a great time with her decorating the tree and it put us in such a good mood we went ahead and put up the rest of the decorations.
The excitement of the young is contagious!

Paradox25's avatar

For some of the reasons mentioned above. Christmas is about the most extroverted time of the year, and those without family, friends, etc may be even more aware of their lonliness, especially when they see others enjoying themselves with their loved ones. Sometimes the holidays bring back memories of deceased loved ones, and the good times shared with them that they can no longer experience. Christmas can also be depressing to many due to financial reasons.

wundayatta's avatar

I went out caroling last night with my family. It was easy and hard. It was hard because it brought back memories of my first anxiety spell that eventually led to depression and thoughts of suicide.

But it was easy because once I got there, I just sang my heart out and had fun goofing around, and embarrassing (I think) my kids, except they didn’t mind so much, even if I was confusing them with alternate harmonies and such.

We carol because 20 years ago, a neighbor was murdered (by gun) on the spot which shoveling snow from his car. It’s a kind of take back the night thing. So it is bittersweet. It reminds me of the last time the economy was bad. It’s bad again, and there are more murders in our neighborhood. But we are out there singing our hearts out! Life is very complex.

Shippy's avatar

Um let me think?

Some of us have no family to share it with
Some of us are broke and cant buy all that plastic crap everyone else is buying
the “Let’s be Merry, Jolly and Happy” is not always easy.
Lot’s of us, cant stand fat white men with white beards.
Turkey is a dry and boring dish (if you are served it)
Round balls, flashing lights, mistletoe toe and all that crap… is just that .. crap
You are reminded of those who are sitting on the street starving
People also die over Christmas, well, particularly in November in my case.
If I had my way, Christmas could go fuck itself.

JenniferP's avatar

Because some don’t have family and friends and are alone. Some can’t afford to buy all of those gifts but are pressured. The Bible says not to “give out of compulsion” for those who believe it is the word of God. It is very hectic for many. Too much rushing. Family gets together with high hopes and in some cases old wounds get opened and they fight. Ask me about my family and some Christmases we spent together if you want to hear about a dysfunctional mess (but not now). Too much alcohol and overeating unhealthy foods.

sinscriven's avatar

The weather conditions are a significant part of it with the lack of sunlight, and cultural expectations of happiness and togetherness are probably the biggest problem when your family structure is broken and/or you’re lonely.

The amount of suicide attempts this time of year I see at my job is saddening because the rate jumps up significantly and the majority of them are hangings.

burntbonez's avatar

I try to stay busy. Caroling. Messiah sings. Plays. Football. Reading. A New Year’s Eve dinner party. It’s all rather frenetic and that’s the way I like it, I think. If I had a partner, I think I would do less because we could stay home and cocoon. But I don’t, so I do what I can. Keep myself as busy as possible. Sometimes take a vacation in January.

SadieMartinPaul's avatar

A generation or two ago, most married women didn’t work outside of the home. As Christmas approached, they had plenty of time to decorate, shop for and wrap gifts, and prepare holiday foods. It was a special time of year, and families developed some very cherished traditions.

I don’t know today’s statistics about wives with jobs. I do know that many of them do work outside of the home. Families don’t want to scrimp on Christmas or give up customs that they hold dear. So, all of those holiday expectations become extra items on a to-do list—things to squeeze-in around commuting, working all day, and life’s usual demands. Is it any mystery why tired people don’t enjoy making shopping trips on their way home or staying up until midnight to bake Grandma’s special cookies?

chyna's avatar

All of those silly Hallmark movies that depict Christmas miracles. All will find love, families that have been apart will come together, all wonderful pets will be adopted from shelters.
Spoiler alert: There are no Christmas miracles.

janbb's avatar

@chyna You mean Ceorge Clooney isn’t going to be sitting next to me on the plane and fall madly in love with me?

mrentropy's avatar

After years of having some kind of family to celebrate the holidays with it’s become very difficult to be completely alone during a time when everyone I know has either family or friends to be with. By ‘alone’ I mean that I have no friends (except the people I work with but nobody will be at work, obviously) and one family member (that for various reasons I’ll only be able to see for a couple of hours). That can be pretty depressing, especially when I hear all the stories everyone will be telling after the holidays.

So, get people like this and people who perceive themselves as being alone and that can be quite a bitter time.

burntbonez's avatar

@janbb I feel certain that when the world ends tomorrow, you will be sitting next to George, making out. George loves you. This I know.

dabbler's avatar

It’s exhausting to do all the extra activities around the holidays. Especially selecting presents.
And it’s dark like @wundayatta says. And cold in some places.

Akua's avatar

For me it was because this season reminds me of all the childhood memories I never had. No christmas tree and gifts, no Frank Sinatra music, traditions, love or X-Mas carols, no egg nog and family. Instead I can recall alcoholic tantrums, fights, beatings and burnt food because someone passed out before turning the stove off. I used to feel horrible at this time of year but then I decided not to let those memories haunt me and rob me of the memories I could make with my husband and our kids. I wasn’t going to allow them to kill that too. So we drive around and look at the lights on the neighbors houses, have a big dinner at a designated relatives house, listen to christmas songs on the radio and stay up watching “It’s a Wonderfil Life” and “Scrooge”, we walk through the woods and look at the awesome foliage turning colors and we kick in the New Year in bed with champayne and cake. Life is what you make it and it’s never to late to create new traditions and new expectations. Sometimes we still get depressed but we work at making things joyful
I know it’s not this simple and easy for those who don’t have family or who have other issues and I understand that I’m fortunate.

JenniferP's avatar

I don’t celebrate it due to my beliefs but I do enjoy the lights. They brighten the night. One thing I couldn’t figure out as a kid is why the other kids got better and more gifts than I? Did Santa like them better?

@Akua I am sorry you had to go through that.

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