Amanda Ngudle explains why Christmas depresses people

While 'tis the season to be jolly, it also spells doom for many people. All over the world there are people whose mood is dampened by the overwhelming spirit of celebration - the drinking, the partying, the eating and everything else festive.

While 'tis the season to be jolly, it also spells doom for many people. All over the world there are people whose mood is dampened by the overwhelming spirit of celebration - the drinking, the partying, the eating and everything else festive.

The UK's leading charity for depression, Depression Alliance, reports that the number of helpline calls they receive goes up by 40percent over the festive season.

"The Christmas and New Year period is a difficult time for thousands of people and those affected by depression in particular," said Jim Thomson, director of Depression Alliance.

Roshni Parbhoo, development manager of the South African Depression and Anxiety Group, says that the festive season brings with it rampant depression and suicide.

"Teens and students are more inclined towards suicide at this time of the year because of stress about exam results," she says.

"Teens also become depressed because financial problems mean that they cannot go on luxury holidays."

Another concern for this group is what the new year has in store for them.

In Lourens Schlebusch's book Suicidal Behaviour in South Africa, it is reported that between 6893 and 8000 South Africans commit suicide every year. The writer is a professor and head of the Department of Behavioural Medicine at the Nelson Mandela Medical School.

Young people are not the only ones taking a beating from the festive season. Older people become depressed while mourning their loved ones.

Violet Nkumanda, a crisis counsellor at Family and Marriage Association of South Africa, says: "We get very large numbers of calls around this period. It's usually calls from teenagers who are worried about their HIV status or fear of pregnancy after losing their virginity over the holidays.

"Others have alcohol problems while others complain they cannot bear going back to work. But all these fears are real and are aggravated by reflecting about them."

Because the year is riddled with tight schedules and day-to-day activities, we rarely take the time to reflect until the holidays.

Lindokuhle Ndaba, a medical doctor, says: "This reflection period is cast with worry and fears and eventually depression. Severe depression can lead to thoughts of suicide."

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