If you know someone with mental health issues and will be seeing them during the holidays, be sure to keep in mind that they may not feel as excited or happy as you do during this time of year. It can be challenging to know how to introduce the topic of mental health with a relative who might be sensitive about it. Still, it can be done tactfully and helpfully if you know how.
Below we discuss how you can help a relative with depression during the holiday season.
Speak About It The Right Way
You might feel that confronting your relative directly about their possible mental health issues is the best way to bring it into the open, but this could cause them to become defensive. The best option is to gently express concern about their behavioural changes during the holiday season.
For example, you could mention that an aunt who usually enjoys helping with meals has declined to help and seems uninterested in the festivities. Addressing it in this manner will allow you to open up the conversation about what behaviour is concerning you and help them to voice what they are experiencing and why.
Try To Include Them In Activities
Many people assume that a person suffering from depression or another mental health issue does not wish to be included in holiday activities. While this might be true sometimes, excluding a person suffering from this illness could also make them feel worse and increase the stigma that they feel towards their mental health.
Including your relative in as many activities as they feel they can handle will show them that you are not disregarding them because of an illness they cannot control. Their attitude towards the festive season could improve, as well as their willingness to open up about their feelings. However, you should not force your relative to take part in activities if they feel tired, overwhelmed, or anxious.
Avoid Any Judgements
As someone who does not suffer from depression or another mental health issue, it can be easy for you to judge your relative’s mood change during the holiday season. Accepting the feelings that your relative has towards the season will help you to speak to them openly, rather than making judgemental comments or assumptions.
Instead of asking them why they are so upset about the holidays, you could say something along the lines of, “I am sorry you are feeling down and have to deal with those feelings.” Showing your relative that you are willing to support them on this journey instead of passing judgement on their feelings will help immensely. It can encourage them to seek professional help when they need it most.
Educate Yourself About Depression
One of the best methods of helping a relative deal with depression, during the holidays or any other time of the year, is to educate yourself about depression. Depression is more than merely feeling sad; it is a mental health disorder that is often caused by a chemical imbalance.
Understanding depression can help to ease conversation and will help both parties to open a dialogue. You will also be better able to provide some advice or insights from the research you have performed. Your opinion should never include anything relating to medications unless you have consulted with a professional medical health practitioner. Showing that you are willing to understand their condition and work towards a solution, can help a person to speak about how they feel and what plan of action they would like to take.
If you have a relative who experiences depression during the holidays or has a mental health issue that is exacerbated due to the festive season, you can help their situation by checking in with them a month to two months before the season begins.
Ask how they are feeling and if they are struggling with any emotions leading up to this festive season. Alternatively, if you or someone you know need help with depression, please get in touch with one of our Mental Health Professionals, or call Life Path Health‘s 24/7-Helpline on 072-7900-506.