Depression during the Holidays


While the holidays are often a joyous time for most people, some older adults struggle during the holidays. The constant festivities may remind older adults of lost loved ones, shed light on new illnesses, and/or increase a sense of loneliness. Getting older is a time of transition to a “new normal.” This new normal can be brought on by new medical problems, chronic pain, decreasing mobility or dementia. Older adults can feel alone, despite being surrounded by family and friends, because of the memories of people who they have lost. Their social circles are always changing–especially with retirement or a move.


All of this grief can lead to depression. Depression is a serious condition, but it is treatable. So it is important to detect depression early. Here are some signs of depression.


  • Insomnia
  • Weight loss or gain
  • Loss of interest in things they used to like
  • Constant sad and tearful mood
  • Feeling of hopelessness or guilt
  • Increased or decrease moto function
  • Constant fatigue
  • Thoughts of death


If you notice any of these symptoms, discuss your concerns with the doctor promptly and request a referral to a mental health specialist for counseling and possibly medication. If they are talking about killing themselves, or have a plan then call 911 to access emergency services.


To help an older adults during the holiday season who might be suffering from depression or grief, be sure to check in on them regularly.   You can invite them to holiday parties, but respect their wishes if they decline. Phone calls and letters are especially appreciated by this age group—so put the texting aside for now.  A card is a great way to show that you are thinking of them.