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Beat the blues this Christmas

Date published: 07 December 2011

It may be the season of goodwill but more people are prone to depression over the Christmas period.

Official figures show that as many as one in four people will be affected by some form of mental health problem in their lives, which can increase over the holidays. Worries over money, buying presents and juggling family can take its toll and people who are on their own often feel lonely.

“There are a number of reasons why people find the festive season difficult,” explains Claire Maguire, Clinical Lead for Psychological Therapies at Pennine Care NHS Foundation Trust, which provides mental health services across the borough.

“Worrying about spending or lack of funds, relationship or family problems, stress about returning to work and feeling alone or isolated are some of the most common reasons why people experience increased depression or anxiety. Many people also tend to drink more alcohol over the Christmas period, which itself can cause you to feel low.

“If you’re depressed, you often lose interest in things that you used to enjoy. Depression commonly interferes with your work, social life and family life, and there can be a number of symptoms such as physical, psychological or social, often in combination.”

Typical symptoms include low mood, lack of motivation, tearfulness, feeling worried, change in appetite or weight, lack of energy, disturbed sleep patterns and avoiding social situations.

Even though these everyday problems affect a range of people, sufferers still feel embarrassed or too ashamed to talk about it.

“Many people find it difficult or are unable to tell friends and family about their mental or psychological health problems, even though they could be the people who can give the best support, “says Claire.

“Sharing your worries with friends and family can really help to reduce the burden. Just talking about your feelings can be a huge release. The worst thing you can do is bottle it up and hope it goes away, because in most cases it won’t, and you could actually end up making things worse.

“If you do feel alone and can’t talk to anybody, there are a number of local NHS services, charities and voluntary organisations that can help. Don’t let things get on top of you and ask for help.”

If you are experiencing feelings of depression or anxiety, make sure you get help by booking an appointment to see your GP.

For more information on depression or mental health stigma, visit  


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