Mental Health and the Holidays

Focusing on Your Mental and Physical Well-Being during the Winter Months


According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), many people experience short-term mental health problems during the holiday season. 

NAMI holiday mental health data:

  • 68% of people felt financially strained;
  • 66% of respondents reported experiencing loneliness;
  • 63% of people felt too much pressure;
  • 57% of respondents felt they had unrealistic expectations;
  • 55% of people “found themselves remembering happier times in the past contrasting with the present;” and
  • 50% were unable to be with loved ones.

While the holidays can cause short-term depression and mental health disorders that may be alleviated as the stress and strain of the season ends, it can also lead to long-term disorders.

Common Types of Mental Health Disorders

While people can experience any number of mental health disorders throughout the year, there are some that are more common during the holidays.

Common mental health problems experienced during the holidays:

  • Depression
  • Generalized anxiety disorder
  • Substance use disorder
  • Obsessive compulsive disorder
  • Social anxiety disorder

Holidays can increase feelings of stress, depression, and anxiety. Additional stresses such as financial strain, alcohol or drug use, and family requirements can all exacerbate these feelings.

Seeking Treatment for Mental Health Disorders

It is important to seek treatment as early as possible if you begin to experience symptoms of mental health disorders. Going into the holiday season it is also important to set reasonable expectations and know your limits. Focusing on your mental and physical wellbeing during the winter months can make for a healthy, happy holiday season. 

If you are experiencing feelings of anxiety or depression during the holidays, you have options for treatment. It is not uncommon for mental health disorders and substance use disorders to coexist. You should always seek professional help if you cannot control your alcohol or drug use, have tried to stop but cannot, or are using drugs or alcohol to escape.