The Difference Between Holiday Stress & Chronic Depression | The Ranch

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The Difference Between Holiday Stress & Chronic Depression

December 8, 2017 Depression,Mental Health
blonde woman stressed with holiday decorations on table

The holidays can be a difficult time for everyone, but are you actually struggling with a major depressive disorder that may require care from a mood treatment center? Nearly all people have some level of stress or sadness during the holidays. There is time with difficult family members, large amounts of money needed for presents and traveling from afar to be with those we love. There are also those whose families are estranged, who feel separated from others during the holiday season. Holiday stress is a completely normal, common occurrence. However, there are notable differences between holiday stress and chronic depression.

Seasonal Affective Disorder

The National Institute of Mental Health describes a condition called seasonal affective disorder as depression experienced during the winter months. During spring and summer, this depression usually lifts but it commonly returns the following winter. This is notably different than general holiday stress due to its recurrence and persistence.

How do you know if you have chronic depression?

It is understandable to feel somewhat down during the holiday season, especially during hard times, but if your mood persists past the holidays, you may be suffering from chronic depression or major depressive disorder (MDD). Symptoms of MDD include:

  • Consistently feeling sad, down or “empty”
  • Feeling hopeless or pessimistic
  • Moving or talking slowly
  • Difficulty concentrating or focusing
  • Irritability
  • Changes in appetite
  • Feelings of guiltiness or worthlessness
  • Decreased energy
  • Thoughts of death or suicide

These feelings are considered to be MDD if they are present for longer than two weeks. Major depressive disorders are extremely common in the United States, with 16.1 million adults ages 18 and older experiencing at least one major depressive episode in the past year.

What do you do if you have depression?

A mood treatment center can be helpful when experiencing chronic bouts of depression or repeat depressive episodes. Doctors and nurses experienced with and equipped to handle MDD will provide treatment. Offering inpatient or outpatient care, or both, a mood treatment center provides a place for you to recover from depressive episodes and develop the coping skills necessary to manage any further episodes.

If you feel a mood treatment center is too intensive for your case, utilizing a combination of cognitive behavioral therapy and selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor drugs (SSRIs), like Zoloft and Prozac, have been shown to be immensely beneficial when experiencing MDD. Your psychiatrist and therapist or psychologist will work together to craft a long-term treatment plan for you in order to help you maintain a brighter outlook.

Major depressive disorder doesn’t have to take over your life. By seeking treatment at the first signs of MDD, you can put a stop to the invasive feelings and behaviors it causes. Stay aware during the holiday season for symptoms that persist past the new year. With the proper care, you have the chance to experience life to the fullest.



“Any Mood Disorder Among Adults” – National Institute of Mental Health

“Depression” – National Institute of Mental Health

“Major Depression Among Adults” – National Institute of Mental Health

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