Scientific News and Reading Suggestion #26

Does psychopathology vary due to the influence of Christmas holidays? Since we are approaching Christmas and the arrival of the new year, the question is timely. We found an article published on Innovations in Clinical Neuroscience in 2011, “The Christmas Effect on Psychopathology” (Sansone et al), which offers an overview of the literature about this topic. The article reports about different issues in the field of mental health, such as access to emergency room services on behalf of psychiatric patients, depressive symptoms, substance abuse and also self-harm behaviors, suicide attempts and suicide. The Authors report that according to the literature, deliberate self-harm decreases around Christmas holidays, in particular in younger patients; suicide attempts rate decreases during Christmas period, but some studies reports that it may increases during the New Year holiday.

On Psychology Today, it is suggested a correlation between the reduction of these events and a protective effect exerted by the proximity of relatives and the hope of ‘things getting better from here’.

A previous reading suggestion (#17, March 2018) was about a recent publication by our member Christina Van der Feltz-Cornelis on Frontiers in Psychiatry, “Springtime Peaks and Christmas Troughs: A National Longitudinal Population-Based Study into Suicide Incidence Time Trends in the Netherlands” in which it is stressed that suicide incidence was 42% lower at Christmas, compared to the December-average (IRR = 0.580, p < 0.001), but after Christmas, a substantial increase occurred on January 1, which remained high during the first weeks of the new year.


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