Fight those Thanksgiving Blues: Dealing with Depression during the Thanksgiving Holiday

Last Thanksgiving, I remember driving up to Safeway and circling the parking lot several times before I could find a parking space.  When I went inside, the honey ham I was planning to buy was no longer there.  I’m sure you can imagine that the long lines were no picnic either.  I can clearly remember the stress I felt.  For those people who have Depression, these Thanksgiving stressors can only make it more challenging to manage symptoms.

Thanksgiving does have its advantages.  You can take time off work, relax with loved ones, or take a break from school.  Other times, Thanksgiving can actually lead to more stress.  Being isolated from loved ones, experiencing flight delays to get to your destination, interacting with obnoxious family members you normally avoid outside of the holidays, standing in long lines at the supermarket, and other reasons can easily make your Depression worse around this time.  If you have Depression, it’s especially important you don’t neglect taking care of yourself around this time.  Below, I’ve listed a few ways to help get through Thanksgiving this year:

1) Plan ahead.

If you’re in charge of cooking this year, visit the grocery store the week prior to Thanksgiving.  This will take away the added stress of long lines and fighting other people for parking spaces.

2) It’s okay to say no.

This can be a hard one, especially if you’re a people-pleaser.  Learning to say “no,” will be important to help you avoid feeling overwhelmed and potentially making your depression symptoms worse.  I know people who get invited to 3-4 Thanksgiving dinners in 1 day and go to each one because they feel obligated to.  I also know someone who has 3 kids and each one will ask her to prepare stuffing a different way.  Sometimes we just have to say no.

3) Have support people on speed dial or express your feelings in healthy ways.

Don’t be afraid to reach out to others for help.  Sometimes we might feel that our best friend is busy or we don’t want to feel like a burden.  However, it’s important to reach out to someone to talk about our feelings.  If someone is unavailable to talk, you can also express your feelings in other healthy ways, such as writing poetry or letters.

4) Reach out.

Your Depression tends to get worse around Thanksgiving because you feel lonelier.    Often, families are living in different parts of the country.  Sometimes, we have loved ones who work during this time of year.  It’s not uncommon for many people to feel lonely during this time of year.  Check your local community center or church to find out about Thanksgiving events.  You can also volunteer for a local charity or non-profit.  You might also find out that your neighbor’s husband just recently passed away.  In this case, invite her over your place for Thanksgiving dinner, as well as other neighbors you know who will not be celebrating Thanksgiving with anyone.


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