Fragrant pine trees, luscious pumpkin pies, and bustling holiday gatherings...for many, these are characteristics of a joyous season. For others, however, the holidays bring about other feelings: stress, lethargy, and an overall absence of cheer. If you’ve ever asked yourself, Why am I sad during the holidays? know that you’re not alone. Here, we sort out the facts about holiday depression.

Financial Woes

Each year, it seems as though the pressure to spend a lot of money on Christmas gifts grows exponentially. Buying expensive presents isn’t a possibility for most people, but commercial and societal tugs lead us to feel inadequate when we can't keep up with the Joneses. Just the fear of not having enough funds to shower loved ones in gifts can induce unnecessary feelings of guilt and shame.

Cure: Stick to a budget. This season, outline your holiday budget – how much you can spend on presents, yourself, and going out. Be realistic and don’t stray from the limits you’ve calculated. You’ll find that saving money during the holidays is an attainable feat, and incredibly stress reducing!

Social/Family Stress

Whether you’re hosting a gathering or attending one, social stress during the holidays can feel overwhelming. And let’s not get started on family responsibilities – when you find yourself hosting your great aunt, your sister-in-law, your brother and his four great danes all in one weekend, it’s easy to overindulge in the eggnog. Unfortunately, excessive alcohol consumption only exacerbates stress and anxiety.

Cure: Give yourself a break. A break from booze, a break from social requirements and the general craziness of the holidays. Yes – it can be done! Think of “me time” as an activity you need to schedule into your day, just as you would dinner with Mom. Take a bubble bath, read a book, watch the game; whatever helps you unwind. Instead of feeling guilty for taking time to yourself, remember that overbooking and overdoing can make you cranky and not so fun to be around. De-stressing during the holidays is a must.

Seasonal Affective Disorder

Not all holiday depression is something that can be avoided. For those who experience Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), wintertime blues is simply a fact of life. SAD is a form of depression that occurs during the same time each year, typically beginning in the fall and lasting through the winter months. Its causes are purely biological, ranging from serotonin depletion from a lack of sunlight exposure, to a disruption of your circadian rhythm due to seasonal time changes.

Cure: Light therapy, supplements, and exercise. Treatment for SAD depends on your symptoms, so discuss them with your physician if you believe you may be affected. Common remedies include regular exercise and light therapy (exposure to “artificial sunlight” through special desk lamps, which can be purchased at a low cost online). Antidepressant medications may also be prescribed by your doctor. Additionally, The Healthy Protocol, LLC’s Royal Velvet is an effective, multi-purpose supplement that promotes healthy sleep and improved serotonin levels for those in search of a natural remedy for Seasonal Affective Disorder.

Your loved ones want you to be healthy and happy this season, and you want to give them your best – so don’t be afraid to take time to yourself. No matter what symptoms of holiday depression you may be experiencing this year, it is important to put your health first.