There’s a dominant belief that Christmas triggers mental health episodes, depression and suicide at a higher intensity than the rest of the year. Shockingly, the data doesn’t support that belief. Where there’s definitely a spike in mental health related issues at this time of year, studies show that during the week of Christmas there are typically fewer ER visits provoked by mental health needs. Why? Perhaps it’s because in addition to increased stress, this is a week that tends to include increased sources of comfort and support.
Here’s a brief excerpt from a column on the subject that appeared in The Guardian recently. If you’re in the greater Cleveland area and feel like you need a little extra support during this season, we hope you’ll reach out to us.
…Fascinatingly, Google search data mirrors this hospital data. When Christopher Ingraham at the Washington Post added up the searches for “depression”, “anxiety”, “pain”, “stress” and “fatigue”, he discovered that Christmas Day had the lowest number of sad searches.
This all seems very counterintuitive, and it did even in the 1970s, when the Durham researchers conducted their study. In the conclusion, they list common holiday stresses, many of which are still relevant now, some not so much: biological (increased alcohol intake, changed sleep and activity patterns), psychological (activated conflicts about childbirth, sibling rivalry, ageing, magical regressive wishes, anniversary reactions), and social (increased contact with family members, increased demands for money). But the authors also have a theory as to why, despite this, ER visits drop during the holidays:
“Leaning on others is crucial, and hopefully, it’s easier to do at this time of year.”