Holiday Depression in Adults with ADHD

By Eileen Bailey

The holiday season can be filled with parties and celebrations. Everywhere we turn, we are inundated with messages that this is the season of joy.  But for some people, it is a season filled with loneliness, anxiety and sadness.  Holiday depression can occur because your expectations for the holiday season are unfulfilled.  Instead of finding joy in being with relatives, you may find it stressful. Instead of spending peaceful times at home, you may be worried about finances, stressed over dealing with children and teens with ADHD and guilty over all those things you feel you didn’t accomplish over the past year.  

Depression is a common co-existing condition in adults and children with ADHD.  For those suffering with the daily struggles of depression, the holidays can make the feelings of hopelessness become more intense.  Whether you struggle with depression on a daily basis or you feel it mostly around the holidays, there are some ways that you can help to make sure you control your feelings of depression, rather than letting them control you:

Review your expectations of the holiday season.  Are your expectations realistic or are they based on a childish view that everyone is happy and everyone suddenly gets along with one another during the holidays?  Television shows us story after story of people learning their lesson, forgiving one another and finding joy where there once was none. These shows can lead to feelings of depression and helplessness if your life doesn’t turn out exactly the way the shows continually end.  We may feel as if there is something wrong with us if we can’t feel the hope and joy this season is supposed to bring.  But the holidays don’t magically make everything all right.  Our families may still fight with each other, our teenagers may still sulk and be unappreciative of all that we do for them, relatives and friends may still not like that gift we took hours to choose, our children may still misbehave and our finances might still be a mess.  Look realistically at your situation and realign your expectations.  Measure the success of your holiday season with your own situation, rather than by television standards. Take time to treasure what makes you happy and try to do something just for you.  Avoid unpleasant get-togethers if they are going to make you feel worse.  By reducing your expectations and basing them on your own reality, you can increase your sense of satisfaction.

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