December: The Happiest and Most Depressing Month of The Year
For many people, December is synonymous with holidays, gifts, and family gatherings. Culturally it is perceived as the happiest month of the year. However, the truth may be totally different from that idea.
These dates are where we are most likely to suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). Which is a depressive state associated with a season or season of the year. This can occur due to climatological, social, and neurobiological factors.
December is the time where all these factors align and the SAD is more possible than ever.
Some experts call this holiday blues.
Winter, sunlight, and mental health
In the northern hemisphere, this is the time when we have the fewest hours of sunlight. This is directly related to our state of mind.
Our circadian cycle is regulated through melatonin, a hormone that is produced when we are exposed to sunlight. This is not only responsible for regulating our sleep patterns but also our moods.
The less we are exposed to light, the more likely we are to develop an affective disorder. On the other hand, we feel more sleepy, with less energy, and we leave the house less.
December makes us reflective
It is the end of the year and we are conditioned to take this time to do a year-round tally. It is even something cultural, we have Spotify Wrapped and lists of the best movies, series, musical albums, etc. of the year.
All of this puts us in a more reflective state. We start to think about what we set out to do at the beginning of the year and what we achieved.
It is very easy to get nostalgic, as we tend to be very hard on ourselves or focus on the negative.
We can't always be with who we love
Due to different circumstances, it is not possible to meet with our families and friends.
This time is designed to be spent surrounded by the people we love. If these reunions are not possible, December becomes a particularly lonely month.
It is harder to be alone during Christmas than it is during the 4th of July.
So all of these factors align and holiday blues become a real problem.
Call your parents, friends, stay in touch and try to be present. If you feel like you are having a difficult time remember that professional help will always be available.
Stay safe and spread the love during the holidays.
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