The holiday season is considered one of the hardest times of the year for anyone struggling with mental health. In fact, the National Alliance on Mental Illness found that 64 percent of people living with a mental illness report that their conditions worsen over the holidays.
And now the recent death by suicide of famed dancer, producer and deejay tWitch has sparked another national conversation about the struggles many people face during the holiday season.
We’re going to explore some of those concerns with Dr. Gregory Scott Brown. He’s a psychiatrist and author of the book “The Self-Healing Mind: An Essential Five-Step Practice for Overcoming Anxiety and Depression, and Revitalizing Your Life.”
Dr. Brown, thank you very much for joining us.
I think we have long known that the holidays can be stressful for many, if not all of us, but especially so for people with mental illness. Why is that?
Dr. Gregory Scott Brown, Author, “The Self-Healing Mind”: There are a lot of different factors at play.
We all know how challenging and stressful the gift giving and even the gift receiving process can be. Unfortunately, some people are enduring financial challenges over the holidays. And, as much as we adore spending time with family and friends, hosting them can lead to an uptick in anxiety levels for some of us.
But another idea that supported by some good science is the fact that, during the winter months, we’re just exposed to less sunlight. That means that melatonin, the hormone that’s released in the brain that tells us it’s time to sleep, is produced earlier in the day. And that might cause some of us to feel more sluggish, tired and even depressed.