For many, the New Year can be a fresh start and exciting time to reset, set new goals, and celebrate the past year, amongst many other things!
However, for those who might be struggling with mental health, the New Year can look a little bit different.
The New Year will bring about different emotions and experiences for everyone. For those with mental health conditions in particular, their experience may depend on their condition specifically or other life circumstances. In the list below, we have unpacked a few ways that mental health conditions may make the New Year harder for some, though this is by no means an exhaustive list.
- Depression: For individuals who might be diagnosed with Depression or Major Depressive Disorder, it’s important to understand that depression doesn’t automatically cease just because an exciting event occurs, or you have a fresh start ahead. In fact, it can bring a bit more depression that can stem from not achieving last year’s resolutions, seeing others happy go lucky around them, not knowing what the next year may bring. Perhaps they’ve had a difficult year the past year which they’re still processing and healing from. It can come in many ways and various forms.
- Anxiety: The New Year can bring a lot of anxiety for anyone in general. However, for someone who is diagnosed with Generalized Anxiety Disorder or even Social Anxiety Disorder, it can be that much harder to control worry amidst the uncertainty of what’s to come next; or feel overwhelmed or pressured to meet the demands of socializing and celebrating.
- Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD): PTSD is something that can be re-triggered at any given time. For some people with PTSD, the New Year may be one of these times. For some, they may have experienced a traumatic event that occurred around the time of the New Year; so each New Year brings some triggering thoughts, memories, etc.
- Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD): Those with OCD may struggle with New Year’s resolutions. They may feel like if they don’t set and achieve certain resolutions that something bad is going to happen to them or someone else (though that’s just one example).
- Dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease: The holidays and New Year can be difficult for those with Alzheimer’s or Dementia and their loved ones as well. It can be hard when you have Alzheimer’s or dementia to truly understand what’s going on around you. When you’re visiting a loved one for the holidays and they don’t recognize your or might not be able to engage in the holiday/New Year festivities that they used to.
For Those Struggling:
If you are struggling with any of the above, remember you are not alone in your struggles! While it may feel like those around you have moved on and are celebrating, know that there are many others in similar circumstances as you! It does not make you a bad friend or family member because you do not feel up to joining in the celebration! Remember, it is okay to put yourself and your needs first! Most of all, never be afraid to reach out for help if needed. You don not have to struggle in silence. If you need immediate support, call or text “988” who may be able to help!
How Can Friends and Loved One’s Help?
The most important and helpful thing you can do for a loved one struggling is offer support in anyway you’re able. Whether it’s simply by listening, helping connect them to resources, etc., the smallest things can sometimes have the largest impact.
- Practice patience: It can be hard to see loved ones feeling down over the holidays and New Year. However, it’s important to remember that they want to be happy; it’s not their choice or their fault. Just because the year changes, doesn’t mean mental health struggles dissipate; but your patience can go a long way.
- Send an invite: Those who are struggling may not be up for social gatherings or celebrations but more times than not, they still appreciate and want to be invited to know they are thought of and wanted!
- Send a text or give a call: When making your holiday or New Year texts and rounds, be sure to include someone who might be struggling to let them know they aren’t forgotten.
- Sit with them: Even if it’s just an hour or so of your time, those struggling often value your company and support.
- Help them seek help if needed: It’s often not easy seeking help on your own! Offer to help a loved one find help or support if needed.