Christmas is full of joy and glad tidings for most people. For some people, however, Christmas is a sad time of the year and a trigger for depressive thoughts.

The holiday season is designed around relationships. You give gifts to friends and family, gather together to eat, and often go to church with your community. But because of the relationship aspect, there is also the potential for very distressing emotions to rise.

"Christmas presents a risk for depressive symptoms in some people," confirmed Josiah Mutua, a counsellor at Pearls Counselling & Therapy and a Providence College graduate.

Mutua says the Christmas blues are very common and can be caused by a number of things. Often, losing a loved one is a trigger for these depressive emotions, but it can be other things as well.

"We also get very stressed as we prepare for the occasion," Mutua said.

This is very normal, Mutua said. Christmas blues are not limited to a small number of people. Many experience it. So how do you help?

"One important thing is to understand and be aware of what one might be going through," Mutua offered. "Time doesn't do a good job of eliminating the pain of losing a loved one."

That means being aware of what happened and staying gentle, gracious and supportive. Mutua suggested doing something positive with the person who is struggling.

"Positive experiences really do help avert depressive symptoms," he said.

If you're experiencing the Christmas blues and they aren't going away, Mutua suggests seeking help. Sometimes you need tools to deal with the thoughts you are going through.

"We need to manage our stresses [and] acknowledge our emotions," Mutua offered. "We also need to test and find those emotions that aren't real and discard them."

Mutua also said that emotions are impulsive, but we need to focus on the thing behind the emotion.

"These feelings can actually be motivators for change and growth," Mutua said.

Mututa suggests supporting and being there for those who are struggling is the best way to help them during the Christmas season.