How To Deal With Christmas When The Festive Season Is Challenging For Your Mental Health

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20 December 2018

Article heading image for How To Deal With Christmas When The Festive Season Is Challenging For Your Mental Health

While Christmas can be a happy time, as we get closer to the festive break, experts have issued a timely reminder that others may find the season very challenging or lonely.

NSW Health chief psychiatrist Dr Murray Wright told the Hit Newsroom that this time of year can trigger depression and increase the risk of self-harm.

"We can often be protected from a sense of isolation because we're very busy in our everyday lives," he said.

"We're going to work and doing a lot of other things - but that stops at Christmas time.

"And everyone else is engaging with their families and friends and seems to be having a good time."

The silly season can also result in a lot of functions where alcohol is freely flowing - however, this is a vice that anyone who is feeling vulnerable should avoid.

"Alcohol is very much a part of a celebration in our community, and it can be very enjoyable - but for people who are vulnerable it can actually put them at greater risk," Dr Wright said.

"Alcohol is a great way to enjoy yourself, but it's a terrible way to cope with stress."

Ultimately, while the festive season can seem to be all about celebrating the year gone by with the company of loved ones, for some it is a case of their loved ones either being absent or a change of circumstances meaning that Christmas is a lot more lonely.

"People who have recently experienced separation - especially if they've got younger children - that can really add to the sense of loneliness and distress that they might feel," he said.

"It's really important for people in those situations to know that it is not unique and there are people who understand how they're feeling."

If you're struggling over the festive season, the following services provide help and someone to listen.

Lifeline: 13 11 14

Beyond Blue: 1300 224 636

Kids Helpline: 1800 551 800

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