Holiday depression, compulsive shopping or social phobia: The other side of Christmas for many
December 18, 2020
- According to the World Health Organization, 44 per cent of the population suffers from symptoms of anxiety, depression or sadness at this time
Christmas is full of expectations, for example, achieving happiness no matter the cost, having fun, feeling at ease with the family, interacting with others, wanting to celebrate and giving gifts. However, some people do not handle these traditions well and can experience negative emotions. According to the World Health Organization, 44 per cent of the population suffers from symptoms of anxiety, depression or sadness at this time.
Some of the disorders that people may suffer from or which may get worse in the run-up to Christmas are:
- Christmas blues or holiday depression. In addition to being a disorder, it is a negative state of mind produced by a number of external stimuli and the symptoms of which are evidenced by great sadness, nostalgia, a lack of appetite, sleep disturbance, anxiety and stress. The elderly or those mourning the death of someone close are the most likely to suffer from this emotional imbalance.
Some advice to help overcome this includes allowing anyone affected to participate actively in the events organised, involving them in activities typical of this time of year (choosing or wrapping gifts), encouraging them to make the main toast, putting on music that they associate with happy memories and reminding them how important they are to the family, for example.
- Compulsive shopping. Although this is not a problem that arises at Christmas, it is a time when oniomania -compulsive shopping- gets worse. Those who suffer from it no longer see shopping as a festive activity or something which is necessary to meet a need, and start shopping compulsively and for no apparent reason.
Those most at risk of this addiction are young people who are at a stage of growth and development in which social acceptance and belonging to a group are particularly important.
- Eating disorders. Those particularly afraid of this time of the year are people with anorexia, because the celebrations revolve around a table full of high-calorie foods. Nor is it easy for those who suffer from bulimia or binge eating syndrome, because, given that they are exposed to vast amounts of food, they are more vulnerable to binge eating.
- Social phobia. For anyone who suffers from persistent fear or excessive anxiety over one or more social situations, the Christmas and New Year period is a particularly testing time. Social phobia is an anxiety disorder in which you fear suffering humiliating situations in public or being in places where you may be observed or judged.
- Fear of loud noises. People who suffer from ligyrophobia or phonophobia have an unfounded and irrational fear of loud noises, such as firecrackers, fireworks, balloons or opening a bottle of Cava or sparkling wine, when they know these noises are out of their control and may occur unexpectedly. The main evidence of this disorder is a panic attack or anxiety attack.
How can you help those who suffer from it? Experts recommend encouraging them to know which objects make these loud noises and to try to imitate the sounds that bother them while listening to them, or helping them to focus on identifying the types of noises, how long they last, the level of discomfort, etc.
- Fear of being touched. This disorder, known as aphenphosphobia, refers to a persistent, abnormal and unfounded fear of being touched. The person’s normal tendency to protect their own space is considerably greater, as they are afraid of catching something or their space being invaded. This fear arises not only with strangers, but also when in contact with someone who they know well.