Are you feeling down and depressed after the new year? You’re not alone. Many people struggle with New Year depression and sadness.
Typically a new year means new opportunities and new chances for success, right? Well, not always. The new year can be surprisingly depressive, especially if you have the habit of placing unrealistic expectations on yourself or want to start your year with the intention of overhauling yourself without a concrete plan.
If you’re already struggling with depression, then chances are your goal for the year would be to “stop feeling depressed.” While a notable wish, it isn’t very useful or helpful as a goal.
Avoiding or overcoming New Year depression means understanding how depression can take over your life and preparing accordingly.
You Don’t Need to Make Resolutions
New year’s resolutions are often an opportunity to use January as an impetus for personal change or a commitment towards positive habits, hobbies, and even mental health resolutions.
But it often fails, and it’s typically more difficult for someone with depressive symptoms to muster the energy and dedication needed to follow through on a new habit at a low point in their life.
In other words, if you consistently feel sad over the holidays and New Year, January might be the worst month to try and start a commitment or try to follow the spirit of self-improvement because you may be unintentionally setting yourself up for disappointment.
Instead, take care to manage your symptoms right now, but consider keeping your goal-setting and long-term planning for Spring.
Call a counselor, therapist, or doctor, and ask them about outpatient or residential treatment programs for mood disorders like depression. If you think you’re experiencing New Years depression or your symptoms are severe, your doctor may recommend an inpatient facility like Amend Treatment. Setting realistic short-term goals can be an important part of the treatment process – but that doesn’t mean you need to set or meet them on New Year’s Day.
When To Seek Professional Help for Depression
Do you feel consistently sad? Have you been diagnosed with seasonal affective disorder or a major mood disorder before? Do you struggle to function or get back to work as the new year ramps up? Are you finding yourself having a hard time getting out of bed for weeks at a time? Do old hobbies and habits fail to bring the fulfillment or enjoyment they used to?
In most cases, asking yourself if it may be time for professional help is usually a good indicator that it is time for professional help.
But if you are struggling with severe depressive symptoms, or if your loved one has been consistently struggling with depression this season, it may even be worth exploring the idea of inpatient treatment as an alternative to one-on-one therapy or outpatient facilities. Inpatient or residential treatment facilities offer a more intensive step-by-step individualized treatment plan, which may help you or your loved one develop a stronger foundation for addressing New Year depression, depressive thoughts, and symptoms throughout the rest of the year.
If your depression is often coupled with other problems – especially anxiety or nervous episodes, self-harm, behavioral changes, unnecessary risk-taking, or substance use – then an inpatient treatment facility may be crucial to affecting long-term change.
It’s Time to Embrace Help
There is no denying that we are inherently a culture of self-improvement and one that preaches personal responsibility at every turn. Yet in a race to prove that we can do it all alone, we tend to forget to highlight that societies are groups, and community is often a key aspect of emotional and behavioral well-being.
Depression, isolation, and loneliness feed deeply into negative thinking and self-destruction, and when we’re at our lowest point, it is others who help lift us back up.
Learn to embrace and acknowledge the importance of having others around you – and know that it’s good, and even encouraged, to seek help whenever you need it. You are not alone, far from it – no matter how lonely you might feel.
Millions of Americans and well over a hundred million people around the planet experience signs and symptoms of depression every year, and many of them experience it more strongly around the beginning of a new year. And every year, people continue to dedicate their lives to improving the public’s awareness on topics of depression, anxiety, and mental health and illness, as well as improving access to mental healthcare and crucial resources within their respective communities.
Reach out to others, find support groups, or – no matter how hard this might be – talk to friends and family and ask for help. It’s okay if you don’t feel like going to therapy this month – make it a goal to go with a loved one, maybe next month. It’s okay if you don’t know what to do – you’re not alone in this, and there are others who have been in the same shoes, have asked the same questions, and have survived thanks to their loved ones. Take it a day at a time, enlist those around you, and don’t forget to breathe deeply.
Ways to Avoid New Year Depression
Having a better understanding of depression and the different cues and coping habits that may apply to you can help you minimize your symptoms next time.
For many people with depression, it’s a lifelong recurring condition – it may come and go, and it may sometimes go for a long time, but it often isn’t something that can be cured. Some people are more susceptible to the neurological mechanism behind their low mood and anhedonia (joylessness). But research tells us that consistent lifestyle changes, therapy modalities and treatments, and medication can manage depressive symptoms and help people with conditions such as seasonal affective disorder lead happier lives.
If you consistently experience depressive symptoms around the holidays, take your time to prepare. Get into positive habits and build a healthy routine over the course of the summer. See a therapist over the autumn months and consider keeping tabs on your mental state through journaling or other similar chronicling habits.
Do something you enjoy all for yourself every day or multiple times a week, and keep that habit consistent even throughout the chaos of the holiday season. Take this year as a stepping stone for your long-term fight against depression – and remember, no matter how lonely you might feel sometimes, you are never alone in this.