While typically harmless, sayings such as the following can be damaging to someone who is suffering from depression:
“A New Year is like a blank book, and the pen is in your hands.”
“Every end marks a new beginning.”
“Cheers to a New Year and another chance for us to get it right.”
These inspirational quotes often come up around the New Year, but it’s not easy for people to feel empowered when they are dealing with mental disorders. The idea that they’re doing something wrong by feeling the way they do can intensify existing thoughts of guilt and worthlessness.
While people typically encourage others to create resolutions that set the tone for the year ahead, the expectation to improve your life is even stronger each New Year. If you are depressed, it's important to know your feelings are valid. And if you know someone who is depressed, there are much better ways to provide support than by reciting inspirational quotes. Regardless of whether you’re dealing with depression directly or indirectly, it helps to get some insight into the depression mindset and discover suggestions for effective support and treatment.
New Year Blues
According to a poll by the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, almost 75% of participants felt more depressed or anxious between Thanksgiving and New Year’s.
So how come depression seems to get worse this time of year? Some of the biggest triggers are unrealistic expectations. People who are depressed may believe that they’re falling short of expectations, like achieving career success, finding a romantic partner, or starting a family. Looking back on the year and taking stock of your accomplishments -- or lack thereof -- can make your depression worse. On top of your personal reflections, seeing other family members and peers share their year’s successes can lead to unhealthy comparisons, fueling your depression further.
Ways to Cope with New Year Depression
Depression can manifest in several different ways. For many people who struggle with depression, it can act as a hidden disability to people on the outside looking in. In fact, many people who have lived with depression for a long time get so adept at hiding how they’re feeling, that even their closest relatives may not notice the warning signs of depression. Taking your own small, mindful steps is a great start to get through the New Year with a little less stress. Although you may feel pressure to make popular resolutions, it’s important to prioritize your own mental health, making feasible changes that don’t necessarily have to measure up with what others are resolving to change.
For others, the signs of depression are so outwardly evident, it may be apparent that a friend or family member is struggling. They may even be open to acknowledging their struggle. If you are aware of someone who is dealing with depression, it’s important to make an effort to support your depressed family members during this challenging season.
New Year’s Resolutions for Those With Depression
Among other symptoms, depression can cause excessive sadness and guilt. Some people who struggle with severe depression feel apathetic, worthless, or hopeless. The changes in brain chemistry that occur with depression can lead to a focus on despair, anxiety, or fear. These feelings can make it incredibly difficult to make resolutions aimed to improve your mental health.
These resolutions may not cure your depression, but they could help you to maintain hope when depressive thoughts creep in. Here are some realistic New Year’s resolutions for those who suffer from depression:
- Set aside time to unplug. Spending time on electronic devices is not only lonely, it’s affecting our mental wellbeing in several ways. Highlight reels on social media lead to unhealthy comparisons and feelings of inadequacy. Additionally, studies show electronic devices impact our ability to sleep, which is critical for maintaining a healthy mental state.
- Start a bullet journal. Journaling for better mental health is scientifically proven to help manage stress, anxiety disorders, and even some mood disorders. Physically writing down your thoughts and/or feelings appears to be linked to processing emotions in a different way.
- Remember acts of kindness. If someone does something kind for you, make a note of it and think about the ripple effects that one action has. Science shows that feel-good hormones like dopamine, serotonin, and oxytocin are released when you shift your thinking toward positive outcomes.
- Try new hobbies or revisit old ones. The thought of getting out of bed, getting dressed, and going out may be overwhelming for depression sufferers. Trying new things not only helps us to vanquish feelings of depression, but it also allows us to expand our minds and learn—both about said new thing, and about ourselves. If trying new things is scary, try something that once made you happy. Bonus points for inviting your friends or family to join you.
- Find a treatment solution that works. Now is a great time to revisit your treatment protocol. Make an appointment with your doctor to discuss your options. Together, you may find you need modifications to sustain your mental wellbeing. If you’ve all but given up, perhaps it’s time to think outside the box and explore alternative options
The New Year brings up some unique challenges for anyone dealing with depression. When you know a difficult time is coming up, treatment can provide some extra support and stability. Call our patient care team at 424-343-8889 to learn more about ketamine infusion therapy and how it offers faster results compared to talk therapy and antidepressants.