For many people, “the most wonderful time of the year” is actually really difficult. Christmas comes with high expectations of perfect, happy families enjoying celebrations and gifts, but not all of us are able to live up to these expectations. For those who have recently lost a loved one, Christmas can intensify feelings of grief and sadness. Many others experience feelings of isolation, financial pressures or increased family conflict that make the season a very stressful time of year. During Christmas time it seems as though everyone is having fun, and, when our energy is already usually drained at the end of a regular day, the festive period brings the added pressure of Christmas shopping, parties, work events and sometimes family obligations or difficulties.

During the holiday season some people find that they are more anxious and depressed even if they do quite enjoy the festivities. One of the reasons may be that in the month of December it gets colder, and gets darker early. The decrease in daylight hours and sun exposure may easily increase gloomy feelings, especially for those people who might be more prone to suffering from depression. Studies conducted by researchers in different countries show that serotonin levels (serotonin is the hormone thought to be responsible for contentment and well-being) are lower during the winter months than in the summer months, which then explains why some people feel more down during Winter.


Claire Borg is a gestalt psychotherapist at Willingness. She works with adolescents and adults. She has a special interest in mental health. She can be contacted on

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