Dealing with Addiction and Depression during the Holiday Season

With Christmas and New Year’s right around the corner, some may begin to feel overwhelmed by a mix of emotions. Those who are struggling with addiction or currently going through recovery may be at a higher risk of suffering from depression. Dealing with addiction and depression during the holiday season can be tough, but having a set plan to overcome those feelings can help you or someone you love to enjoy this time of year with friends and family without the worry.

Seasonal Depression

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a specific type of depression that affects people seasonally. SAD is usually at its peak during the winter months when the weather is frigid and there is less sunshine. The disorder also strikes during the summertime too. SAD is known as the winter blues or summertime sadness, and occurs in people who exhibit normal mental health during other times of the year. People struggling with mental health disorders and addiction find it extremely difficult to cope with the extra burden of SAD.dealing-with-addiction-and-depression-during-the-holidays

The disorder creates a seasonal pattern of recurring major depression. There are specific signs and symptoms of SAD, which include oversleeping, difficulty waking in the morning, craving for sweets and carbohydrates, a lack of energy, pessimism, hopelessness, social withdrawal and isolation, difficulty concentrating and completing tasks and decreased libido. People suffering with bi-polar disorder will experience major depression during a SAD phase. The cause of SAD is questionable and may be attributed to: innate survival instincts, reproduction regulation, a lack of serotonin or melatonin secretion that is regulated by the circadian rhythm.

Dealing with Stress

As if struggling with addiction and SAD isn’t bad enough, there is even more pressure on a recovering addict during the holidays. The holiday season should be filled with family, friends, fun and joy. Sometimes the holidays can create less desirable things like stress, high expectations, fatigue, demands, over-commitment and obligations. All this added stress can have a negative affect on someone recovering from addiction. It may even pose itself as a trigger toward relapse if the addict isn’t careful.

The best course of action that a recovering addict can take is to plan ahead. If you or your loved one suffers from SAD or co-occurring mental disorders, speak with your physician concerning the matter. There are medications available, as well as alternative therapies that may prove to be very effective in treating these problems. Once the physical aspects are dealt with, you can concentrate on the psychological aspects of holiday stress.

Dealing with Addiction and Depression during the Holiday Season

To de-stress during the holidays, the person has to focus on him or herself and their recovery first and foremost; everything else is secondary to that. If they cannot fulfill certain expectations or obligations, they should just say no. They should not allow themselves to feel guilty or be pressured into performing specific tasks. Be polite but firm, and tell family and friends that they will not be able to comply during this critical time in their life.

Recovering addicts should do whatever works best for them and enjoy the holidays. Strive to avoid gatherings and events where people drink and do drugs. Anything that would be a temptation or act as a trigger toward relapse should be avoided completely.

The holidays can also be a time of experiencing strong emotions, especially when the recovering addict is estranged from their family and friends. It is easy to fall into a depressed state of sadness, grief, loneliness and remorse. This is often a time when many addicts will relapse because they do not know how to cope with their overwhelming emotions. To avoid this type of situation, the addict should plan a new strategy like spending time with new friends, volunteering, or doing something new and entertaining. They should isolate themselves, but instead make plans to stay busy doing things that they enjoy.

The holidays should be a time to celebrate the good things in life, and be thankful and express gratitude for a second chance at life. If you or someone you care about is struggling to stay sober during the holidays, and needs professional treatment, call the addiction specialists at White Sands Treatment Center. We can guide you every step of the way, and help you find the treatment program that best suits your needs. Dial 877-855-3470 today to get started. 

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