Depression & the New Year: Pinpointing Why & What to Do Next

New Year

The end of the year holiday season can provoke some very strong feelings. By the time New Year’s Day rolls around, the overwhelming emotion might be depression. When you factor in the global specifics as we transitioned from 2020 to 2021, the odds of feeling blue may have increased exponentially.

This feeling is far from “blue” in an “I’m having a bad week” kind of way. Depression is a diagnosable mental health condition. It can be triggered or exacerbated by fear, isolation, conflict, and low self-esteem. All of those factors — and more — are present as we feel our way around a new year.

3 Reasons Why Depression is So Common Around the New Year

Reflection and Resolutions

Unlike, say, the Fourth of July, New Year celebrations center around the idea of reflection. What did you accomplish in the past 12 months? How many goals did you attain? What new resolutions will you set to challenge yourself as the new year commences? Inevitably, each of us will have some ups and downs to reflect upon. The downs, however, can feel particularly heavy on at the end of the year. This is a common recipe for depression. When you factor in nearly a year’s worth of social distancing, in-fighting, and disease concerns, everything becomes that much more difficult.

Seasonal Affective Disorder

For big chunks of the planet, New Year’s Day occurs during the winter. Thus, you may already be struggling with Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). This condition most typically relates to how your life can change in the colder, darker months. Symptoms include low energy, sleep issues, losing interest in activities you usually enjoy, weight and/or appetite changes, and a loss of concentration. More severe cases could induce a feeling of hopelessness coupled with thoughts of death or suicide.

Social Stress

Staying home is taxing and runs counter to the way we are wired. In the midst of a pandemic, the rights and wrongs of social interaction are blurred. None of this helps us emotionally and the questions abound: Will I feel better if I go out? Will I be putting myself at risk? Can I afford not to interact? It’s natural to feel saddened by such contemplations. It’s dangerous if that sadness morphs into depression.

Depression & the New Year: What to Do Next

The short answer is to get back to basics. For example, practice:

Gratitude

An excellent method of balance is to count your blessings. You can also commit, in the new year, to keep a gratitude journal. Next year, you’ll have that long list to consult if the post-holiday blues re-emerge.

Mindfulness

You don’t have to reflect or resolve. You can just be present. The past is home to guilt and regrets. Anxiety dwells in the future. The present is the only time we truly have and you can control more about it than you may realize.

Self-Care

This could mean in-the-moment pampering. It should also include a daily commitment to self-love, e.g. maintaining regular sleep patterns, making healthy eating choices, and partaking in exercise and activity on a daily basis. Developing some reliable relaxation techniques is also a must.

Peace

A major part of resolution guilt and shame comes from social media. Remember that everyone is carefully curating a certain image of themselves. Newsfeeds rarely not reflect reality. If maintaining perspective feels challenging, then consider taking a break. Simply try being intentional when it comes to media usage. Turn off your phone a few times a day. Even better, consider a temporary deactivation until you’re ready to deal with social media again.

Finally, depression is not something to ever take lightly.  It won’t go away with the appropriate treatment. If you find yourself — at any time of year — feeling like you need help, reach out immediately. Please read more about depression and anxiety treatment and contact me for a consultation today.