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The holidays aren’t joyous occasions for everyone

The season elicits a wide range of emotions, some positive and some not

Illustration published Tuesday, Nov. 22, 2016.

Illustration published Tuesday, Nov. 22, 2016.

I associate the holiday season with family time, relaxation and good eats. It is a joyous occasion that I look forward to every year. Many young college students have the same thought process; the holiday season offers an opportunity to relax and recuperate from the trials of college.

This is not the case for many individuals, however. We must not forget that many people dread the holidays. According to Psychology Today, up to 45 percent of North Americans dread the holiday season.

In fact, according to the National Institute of Health, Christmastime is associated with a spike in suicides as well as an increase in the number of cases of depression. This holiday-specific depression has many origins.

For example, some feel especially socially isolated during the holiday season, often recognizing that they are not happy while others clearly are.

Similarly, the feelings associated with the loss of loved ones is especially amplified during the holiday season when people are given the opportunity to relax and reflect. Though this free time is peaceful and productive for many, for those suffering from loneliness, the holiday season only furthers their feeling of isolation.

  1. Additionally, major depressive disorder can be inflicted by changes in the seasonal pattern, meaning that some individuals become depressed at the same point every year. In this case, they become depressed over the holidays, as the seasons change.

There are various causes of depression during the holidays; it is only important that we acknowledge that the holidays are not the same positive experience for everyone. It is a time to reach out to those who are less fortunate or to those who do not have loved ones willing to support each other or to those who do not have loved ones whatsoever.

For those afflicted with depression, there are some ways to lessen these feelings of loneliness or despair. According to WebMD, those who are suffering from depression during the holidays may consider reducing alcohol consumption, volunteering, avoiding negative relatives, surrounding oneself with positive individuals and seeking emotional support from loved ones.

Although depression is rampant during the holiday season, some people are simply uncomfortable or angry about some aspects of the holiday season.

“My family and all the events that surround the holidays bring me stress, not joy,” said Brianna McGuffin, ASU sophomore.


For example, many individuals report that they find the commercialization of holidays such as Christmas to be excessive or too closely linked to social engagement, while other individuals report that they don’t like that the holidays are closely linked to religion.

“I would have to say that the holiday season is annoying,” McGuffin said. “I dislike that people are celebrating a holiday based off of traditions revolving around a religion.”

However, for many, the religious traditions associated with holidays are the most important aspect of the season, and that is exactly the point. We need to acknowledge every point of view and understand that every person’s circumstances differ greatly.

For some, the holiday season is positive, and for others it is not. There is no better time to spread positivity and love than during a season where so many suffer while so many others flourish. 

Reach the columnist at or follow @ghirneise2 on Twitter.

Editor’s note: The opinions presented in this column are the author’s and do not imply any endorsement from The State Press or its editors.

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