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Festive season, a joyous time for some and a threat to mental health for others

Drug and alcohol abuse may also trigger an underlying mental health issue. Picture: Kat J/ Unsplash

Drug and alcohol abuse may also trigger an underlying mental health issue. Picture: Kat J/ Unsplash

Published Dec 17, 2022


Johannesburg - The festive season is known to be a time for happiness and celebrations and to be among loved ones, however, this time of the year could also be extremely detrimental for some, leading them to battle depression, stress and anxiety, said Clinical Psychologist Daniel den Hollander.

Although there are so many different factors that contribute to this festive season being a joyous time, those same factors could contribute to the festive season being a completely opposite time to some other people, as this time of the year is known to be a major key player in the peak of mental health issues.

Dr Hollander said: “The festive season is busy and expensive and it comes at the end of the year and that alone is a lot and hard for many especially for men who are seen as providers, and there are expectation for them and for themselves, so when there isn't enough income or they simply don't meet the expectations that they would have wanted themselves to meet so they begin to take that personally and are affected, becoming depressed and anxious.

“Also, not everybody is really into crowds because that is a big thing during this time of the year, so if you are introverted then you are out of your comfort zone. Also, families getting together has a good part and bad part to it, we know that there is a lot of alcohol around this time so if there is a toxic home or family environment then now it is heightened which could also contribute to mental illness.”

A major concern is also how easily people battling mental illness are able to blend in and easily able to turn to toxic ways of dealing with their mental health issues such as drinking too much, going out a lot or other addictions that allow for people to disconnect from reality.

All the above have become common and normalised things to do at this time of the year, which allow for people to easily hide behind them without their loved ones noticing that they are suffering or questioning the sudden excessive drinking, going out or change in behaviour.

“I mean, being high is a disconnection, being drunk is a disconnection, so any kind of addiction or pathological behaviour is disconnecting you from the stress, it's a defence mechanism,” he said.

Dr Hollander has urged that people be aware of your feelings/emotions, do yoga, be around people who are healthy for you, focus on the positive and also try to balance their down time alone with some time spent with loved ones in order to try to fight the internal battle.

And in cases where people are overwhelmed by their mental illnesses they are urged to seek professional help.

“We need to remember that the expectation that we have on ourselves or others, need to be reworked and refined.It’s so important that we remember that it’s about the person that we love and not about what the person can give to us and to realise that connections are more important than material wants and needs. We need to appreciate each other more,” said Hollander.