Depression During the Holidays

We’ve all heard and read about depression during the holiday season, but it can especially ring true for seniors and people with disabilities for a myriad of reasons. There is also tons of real data to back up the fact that a countless Americans feel this burden during this season. Along with that data, as outlined below, we give some concrete reasons as to why someone may feel these emotions more strongly during this time and some tips as to how loved ones can help seniors and individuals with disabilities cope, and hopefully overcome, seasonal depression.


According to a recent study of approximately 300 individuals, the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), approximately 64 percent of people living with a mental illness reported that their conditions worsened around the holidays.

According to a poll of 2,119 adults conducted by Morning Consult on behalf of the American Psychiatric Association, Americans are five times more likely to say their level of stress increases rather than decreases (41% to 7%) during the holidays. Adults are most likely to feel anxious about missing family members (47%)

Research shows that clinical depression with a  seasonal pattern impacts as much as six percent of the population, and it’s also common for those who don’t normally struggle with depression to experience it temporarily in the winter months.


Numerous factors contribute to the depression many of us feel during the holidays, including, but not limited to:

  • Worries related to COVID
  • Traveling
  • Affording gifts
  • Affording meals
  • Finding gifts
  • Discussing politics at a holiday gathering
  • Spending time with family
  • Working long hours
  • Increased responsibilities and obligations
  • More social interactions
  • Less time to relax
  • Physical and mental fatigue
  • Increased expectations
  • First holiday season after the passing of someone you love
  • Loneliness
  • Disappointment over not being able to see all family and friends


While not entirely holiday-specific, the National institute on Aging has a social isolation and loneliness outreach toolkit on their website that includes plenty of graphics, literature, videos, and more that give tips and display statistics on the subject as it relates to the elderly population. For example, one in four adults age 65 and older are considered socially isolated. One tip includes considering adopting a pet for comfort to help lower stress and blood pressure. While the materials aren’t seasonally specific, the toolkit still provides some tremendous information for those struggling with social isolation, loneliness, and depression

Some other tips that we’ve included below provide us with the opportunity to show love to our loved ones, specifically seniors and individuals with disabilities. By showing some of these small gestures, we’re able to ensure the holiday season is less burdensome for those we love:

  • Encourage and facilitate social activities through local organizations that include churches, temples, mosques, senior centers, etc.
  • Explore hobbies and other areas of interest with your loved ones such as getting involved in a book club, knitting, quilting, sewing, etc.
  • Simplify holiday plans to focus on the true meaning of these celebrations and show that you’re trying to remove the burden of expectations, gifts, food, etc. from the season altogether in order to focus on the people themselves and the importance of family and friendship.
  • Cook traditional and familiar baked goods that make them feel comfortable and at home, possibly even allowing them to reminisce over past traditions and memories.
  • Initiate outreach through a simple call or visit.
  • Take time to listen, it goes a long way.
  • Make appropriate accommodations for them during the season so it takes that stress off of them and allows them to be more comfortable, not having to arrange for particular travel or other accommodations themselves.
  • Find familiarity in traditions or nostalgic experiences.
  • While overcoming seasonal depression is much easier said than done, it’s still worth recognizing the sheer volume of people in America that feel this emotion during this time and taking time out of your day to make their holiday season as pleasant as possible.


by Spencer Griffin
Director of Marketing

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