Depression at Christmas

December 2014

The Hollywood version of Christmas, where everything is perfect and idealised, is so familiar to us as it’s recycled again every year; we may know that it’s just a fantasy – an unreal version – but often we can struggle if we feel our reality is not what we believe it is ‘supposed’ to be. Everywhere we are surrounded by the words ‘merry’ and ‘happy’ and there is this expectation that we should be having a good time. Christmas can be a difficult time of year for a lot of people. A recent survey carried out by the Samaritans showed that 48% of the men they polled said that they felt ‘sad or depressed’ at Christmas; and last year over the Christmas period the Samaritans received over 244,000 calls in the UK.

Whatever may be troubling you, it can help to speak to a mental health professional. Counsellors, psychotherapists and psychoanalysts are trained to help you with the difficult feelings that you may find hard to share with those around you.

Counsellor and psychotherapist Rachel Hayward who is based in Peebles, is aware of the increase of anxiety at this time of year, she says that ‘Over the years I’ve noticed that Christmas can be a bit of a catalyst, for example, problems within a relationship which may have been there for some time, will suddenly erupt over Christmas lunch, tensions can run high. It tends to bring to the fore all those difficulties that we may have been ignoring throughout the year and magnify them.’ Rachel believes that therapy can be helpful on various levels, and she works with the underlying feelings which are beneath the surface symptoms such as anxiety or depression.

Selkirk based Jill Prentice is an experienced psychotherapist and counsellor who has worked in healthcare since the 1980’s. Over the years she has worked with a wide range of clients, both in the NHS and privately, who have experienced all levels of emotional and mental distress. Jill listens very carefully to what her client is telling her, but she also listens to what is going on underneath the surface or ‘unconscious’ feelings which she will explore with the client. Jill explains that she has found this way of working to be most helpful, ‘it’s a deeper way of working’, says Jill, ‘rather than just putting a sticking plaster on something painful we try and understand the root.’ Jill works with couples as well as individuals.

Originally from Hawick, psychoanalyst and writer Dr Bruce Scott did his extensive training in London before moving back to the Borders. He describes his way of working as a ‘conversation’ and goes on to say that ‘Often it is through talking to another person that we can come to know what it is that we really think and what we truly feel.  It is through conversation that we might find the words for unspoken feelings.’ Bruce offers a space where his clients can reflect on the situations and feelings which they find unbearable, and one of the aims of analysis it to try and make sense of them. Bruce is also able to offer free or low cost therapy to those on a low income or unemployed.

Finding a therapist can be confusing and daunting, but those featured here have all undergone thorough trainings and are all registered with a respected professional body and work within an ethical code.

In case you are experiencing an acute mental health issue or feel at risk you should contact emergency services, or the Samaritans on 08457 90 90 90.