Real Talk: Mental Health and the Holidays
The holidays can be really hard for a lot of people. Mental health issues and Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) come out in full force around the holiday season and especially in the wintertime. The losses of the year may outweigh the gains and it’s important to acknowledge the impact that this time of year can have on us.
Thanks to NAMI, we know that the holidays can negatively affect all of us. However, it can also give us a chance to reach out and support our loved ones. We want to share some common myths about mental health and the holidays to make sure you are looking out for yourself and others this holiday season.
Myth #1: Suicide rates increase during the holiday season.
Actually... The highest rates of suicide occur in late spring after the holiday season but the risk of suicide is just as serious during the holidays as it is year-round.
Myth #2: Everyone gets the holiday blues. It’s not a big deal.
Actually... While the “holiday blues” are different from a diagnosed mental illness, short-term mental health crises and issues should still be taken very seriously and can lead to long-term mental illness.
Myth #3: Adults are the only ones who get sad around the holidays.
Actually... Children and teens are at high risk for short-term mental health issues around the holidays as well. In fact, admissions to child psychiatric hospitals are the highest in the winter.
Myth #4: If you already struggle with mental health, then the holidays aren’t really that different.
Actually... The holidays can inflate a lot of stressors and triggers in individuals already dealing with mental health issues. Pre-existing mental health does not exempt you from the “holiday blues”.
Myth #5: If I just ignore the signs, it will go away.
Actually... Leaving short-term mental health untreated can quickly turn into long-term issues. Doing things like consuming alcohol or financially straining for gifts during the holidays may seem normal but can severely inflate mental health issues long-term.