Can't seem to find your Christmas cheer this year?

Christmas can be a tricky time - for a lot of us, we look forward to the fun, festivities and food, but for others it can mean depression, anxiety and just feeling alone.

mental health, depression, christmas and depression, christmas and suicideWhen Christmas cheer disappears

As Christmas approaches, no doubt many of us look forward to festivities, fun and food, but for some, it can bring with it a whole range of emotions and stresses – from family conflicts, to financial pressures and loneliness. It is sadly a time where suicide is more prevalent and mental health issues can grab on and take more control of our lives. For those with drug or alcohol problems, Christmas can increase use and lead to a downward spiral of addiction and depression. Even though you may have a family to spend the day with, if they’re always on your case about your drug use or you just don’t like seeing the disappointment and worry in their eyes, it can make Christmas pretty painful.

Smoking weed to stay on top of things

Some people try to escape depression or anxiety – or the various other issues that arrive with the Santa season – by drinking or smoking weed. Unfortunately, in a lot of situations, alcohol and marijuana only make things worse – adding to problems with depression, causing fights in the family and also increasing the strain on your hip pocket, which inevitably just leads to smoking more weed so you can relax and focus away from your problems. In reality, addressing your Chrissy concerns with weed can just be the start of a vicious cycle.

A vicious cycle: marijuana and mental health

Ever heard of a vicious cycle? That’s a bit what it’s like when it comes to cannabis  and mental health. If you’re someone who struggles to  deal with the pressures of everyday life, let alone Christmas, it can be really tempting to use weed to help you relax, get through the anxiety or temporarily  escape. The catch is – and there’s always catch – it might feel better in the short-term, but in the long-term, you could be contributing to your depression or anxiety, meaning next Christmas is likely to be even tougher – not to mention the days in between!

The problem is that marijuana is known to worsen symptoms of some mental illnesses and issues – in the case of anxiety, it can even cause short term panic in some people – so using it to get a bit of relief is just feeding into the cycle and possibly making things worse. This same cycle can be seen with depression – someone who is predisposed to feeling down might be more likely to start using weed to escape these feelings, but at the end of the day, it usually just makes their depression worse as it scrambles brain chemistry.

Ways to bring back the Christmas cheer

So what can you do if Christmas is a time of year that you would rather avoid? For some of you, getting out of your own head and away from your own problems and investing yourself in building someone else’s Christmas cheer can be that little Christmas miracle you need. For others, the main problem is loneliness – so meet up with some other Christmas ‘orphans’ (people who don’t have family or don’t like theirs, or are new to the country), visit a friend, volunteer to help feed the homeless or pop in to help out at the local nursing home.

One of the best things you can do to avoid the problems that become so much more apparent at Christmas, is to deal with them head on before Christmas even arrives. For some people, that means finally following through on their decision to quit weed, giving up the drink, calling and making peace with family or just seeing a counsellor or someone who can help with depression or anxiety.

If you need some extra support this Christmas, call the cannabis help and information line on 1800 30 40 50. If you are depressed or need some general support, give Lifeline a call on 13 11 14.

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