Christmas Stress and Depression

By Julie Le Franc, Psychotherapist and Psychologist



       Many people struggle with stress and depression during Christmas time and the suicide rate is said to be higher during the month of December. 

       Symptoms during this stressful time may be triggered by a multitude of things, such as losses (deaths in the family, divorce, loss of a job/career), failures and loneliness.

       Suffering may cause a person to question their life, past, present and to seek questions and meaning in behaviour and links between experiences and events.

       Stress usually refers to actions or situations that place excessive physical or psychological demands upon people and threaten to unbalance them.  Major life events are sources of stress to which we must adjust.  Related to stress is the notion of life crisis, which in psychological terms is an imbalance between the demands, presented by a particular problem and the resources available to deal with them.

       Abnormal mental states are regarded as diseases and their cause sought in the disruption of a person’s biological, psychological or social functioning.  Depression makes you feel exhausted/fatigued, worthless, helpless and hopeless.  Such negative thoughts and feelings make some people feel like giving up.

       Whilst Christians can celebrate the birth of Christ at Christmas time and feel joyous with the faith of Christ, others can feel severely depressed and lonely with their thoughts scattered and troubled and they may feel like they are leaning over the brink of an abyss with loss of hope or any thoughts of a future.

       Many patients require support during this time of year.  Therapists can provide a rich tapestry for understanding the place of mental illness and seeking meaning in behaviour by taking into account their past experiences, family-of-origin, their habitual ways of feeling and thinking and their current circumstances and so on and, of course, the reasons they themselves give for behaving and feeling as they do.

       Research has shown that brief psychoanalytical psychotherapy (50 min. once a week with the duration of being less than one year) is highly effective (Howard, 1998).  Skills training, Psychotherapy, Interpersonal Therapy, CBT including Behavioural interventions, Behaviour modification, Cognitive interventions, all play a significant role in maintaining depression.  Patients may access rebates through their GP under a GP Mental Health Care Plan.

       Let not the pressures of Christmas undermine a person’s/patients’ integrity, principles or confidence as pressures of life can distort a person’s mind.




       Howard E. (1998).  How to practice Brief Psychodynamic Psychotherapy: The core conflictual relationship theme method.  American Psychological Association, Washington, DC.

       The Medical Link November/December 2009 – issue number 067