New Year: Why Don’t I Feel Happier?

The beginning of the year is often associated with high expectations of happiness and enthusiasm to find joy and contentment. But these feelings can create emotions on the opposite end of the spectrum depending on a person’s circumstances.

Depression between Christmas and the New Year can be a major problem for many who find themselves in situations of loneliness, financial difficulties, or experiencing loss. During the holidays, the loss of a loved one, losing a job, or any other real or perceived struggles can cause feelings of sadness or depression. 

When someone is struggling with sadness but sees the joy and excitement in others during this festive season, it can heighten these troubling emotions. It is a time of year to be keenly aware of your loved ones’ state of mind.

It’s also important to recognize that while feeling sad is an integral part of depression, they are not the same thing.

What is the Difference Between Sadness and Depression?

Sadness is a natural response that most people will experience during difficult situations such as loss or disappointment. There are many life events that can leave people feeling sad, though a person can usually find relief after a good cry or by sharing their thoughts and emotions with someone. These feelings will pass with time, and a person will resume their normal daily activities. 

Depression is a mental health condition that results in prolonged periods of sadness. A person no longer shows interest in their usual activities or hobbies. You may notice changes to their behavior, including constant fatigue, varying sleep patterns, different eating habits, self-isolation, and avoiding social activities. They can also experience episodes of low self-esteem and difficulty concentrating, both of which can occur in people of all ages or genders. 

Feelings of depression typically last longer than two weeks and usually don’t go away on their own. They alter a person’s behaviors and attitudes and have an overpowering effect on their life.

Each case is different, and one person may exhibit all of the symptoms while another only shows a few signs. Others attempt to hide the depression because they are worried about what people might think. 

In advanced cases of depression, a person may engage in thoughts of self-harm or suicidal ideation. These symptoms of major depression should be taken seriously, and a person or loved one should seek immediate help from a trained professional.

Self Help for Depression

1. Take Care of Your Physical Well-Being

It can be a challenge to exercise or eat right while feeling down, but this can provide many positive benefits. Exercise releases endorphins and can help elevate your mood. Reaching for healthy foods during periods of sadness or depression is vital instead of binging or not eating at all. 

Make sure you are drinking enough water and staying hydrated. Don’t sleep for longer periods of time or stay awake all night. Instead, make a good night’s sleep a priority and get 8 hours to help revitalize your body. Keeping your body healthy will help keep your mind healthy as well.

2. Challenge Negative Thinking

We often allow our thoughts to run wild, and when we are sad or depressed, this can be harmful. A simple solution is to challenge our negative thoughts with positive thinking. If a thought comes into your head that you are worthless, then turn it around and remind yourself that you have family and friends who care about you and love you because you’re an amazing person. 

When we turn our thoughts toward more optimistic thinking and practice gratitude, we can make it a habit. This will help us prevent moments of prolonged sadness or depression as we learn to control our thinking and use it to our advantage of being well.

3. Serve Others

When we are sad or depressed, we become self-absorbed as we dwell on the difficult situation or the problems we are facing. It is helpful to get our mind on other things and off our troubles. When we reach out to help others, we start thinking about them and what their needs might be. Some ways to reach out include calling a friend, volunteering for a charity, adopting a pet, or helping a neighbor who is in need. 

This type of action alters our behaviors and attitudes in a positive way as it takes our mind off our own situation and starts us thinking and helping others. Mahatma Gandhi said, “The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.”

4. Get Professional Help

When you notice someone you care about isolating themselves, altering their behaviors in significant ways, or making any type of comments about self-harm or suicide, you should seek immediate professional help. Depression usually worsens over time, and the longer it continues, the more essential it is to search for help.

Get Support for New Year Depression

During the holidays, it is essential to know the difference between sadness and depression. Help your loved ones walk through the self-help measures for depression and be there to support them during this difficult time. Make sure they are taking care of themselves physically and be a listening ear if they need to talk. 

If this behavior lasts for longer periods than two weeks and you see the New Year depression not resolving, take the necessary steps to get professional help. Orange County Behavioral Health offers the best depression treatment available all year round. Call us today at 949-900-8426 or 877-467-2223 to learn more about the depression programs we have available. 

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