Does New Years make us more vulnerable to depression?
New Year's is a time of celebration for many, but for others, it can be very hard.
The media version of New Year's, what we see on television programs, cultural events in the street and even advertising pieces broadcasted on those dates, is characterized by joy, good wishes and affection towards loved ones.
In short, almost everything that makes up what in psychology is called "positive affectivity": a state of mind that allows us to experience well-being and brings us closer to happiness.
However, in the same way that saying something is not the same as doing it, the New Year that we see on the screens does not necessarily correspond to what the vast majority of people experience. For many, this time of year means nothing special, and is simply another mark on the calendar. And for others, not only are they not dates to feel joyful, but they make them feel sad, anguished or invaded by despair.
And the fact is that the link between the New Year and depression makes it difficult for many people vulnerable to this mood disorder not to feel very bad during those days that unite one year with the next. Here we will see to what this phenomenon is due, and what can be done to face it.
The impact of cultural phenomena on mental health.
Mood disorders linked to depression do not just arise; the frequency and intensity of their symptoms are linked to our experiences.
This does not mean that certain events lead us irremediably into a depressive mood, of course. The way we interpret what happens around us plays a very important role in our mental health, making us more or less vulnerable depending on our belief system, attitudes and ideas.The way we interpret what happens around us plays a very important role in our mental health, making us more or less vulnerable depending on our system of beliefs, attitudes and ideas. The same event can be traumatic for one individual, and emotionally neutral for another.
However, although the subjectivity of each person influences our propensity to develop psychological disorders, these ways of interpreting reality are never entirely individual and detached from the context; the "glasses" with which we read what is happening around us are not our own inventions built from scratch; They are influenced by cultural phenomena that mobilize thousands or millions of people.. And New Year is a good example of this.
The relationship between New Year and depression
Evidently, the mere existence of the New Year does not mean that all people are at greater risk of suffering the symptoms of depression. This link between depressive disorder, on the one hand, and the festivities at the end of the year and the beginning of the next, on the other, is only significant in certain people who are predisposed to this psychological disorder.
How does this link occur? First of all, New Year invites us to look back at the past and make an assessment of what has happened to us. If we believe that it has been a bad year or things have happened for which we have suffered a lot, all the negative emotional charge of the last 12 months will come to us all at once.This can be reason enough for us to lose the desire to participate in any potentially pleasant and stimulating activity, which worsens our mood because we feel isolated, disconnected from the rest.
In addition, New Year's encourages comparisons.. Either by comparing our progress with that of others, or by comparing ourselves with the "I" of 12 months ago. If the result of this mental exercise is unfavorable, it will damage our self-esteem and our ability to believe in ourselves. Emotional stagnation and hopelessness are another of the basic ingredients of depression, and New Year's can trigger them if we were already in a situation of emotional vulnerability.
Finally, the combination of all of the above can lead us to become obsessed with the idea that we are marked by many problems that haunt us wherever we go, and that do not disappear even if months go by.
This is the breeding ground for rumination, which is the tendency to give a lot of time and energy to our thoughts.This is the breeding ground for rumination, which is the tendency to think over and over again about the kind of thoughts that worry us. It is, in short, a kind of psychological "tunnel vision", which leads us to be unable to stop thinking about distressing ideas, leaving us only a few hours to "rest" between one ruminative cycle and the next.
As you may have guessed, rumination is also associated with depression. Pessimism attracts pessimism, and one of the characteristic aspects of depression is its self-referential character: sadness reminds us that we have reason to be sad, to put it succinctly.
How to combat depression in the New Year?
Psychotherapy has proven to be an effective way to combat depression once its symptoms have begun to manifest themselves, and to avoid relapses when a depressive crisis has already been left behind. The tools used by psychologists are varied and are adapted to the characteristics of each patient, but in all of them there is something in common: the adoption of new behavioral habits and new mental frameworks from which to interpret reality in a constructive way is encouraged.
At Psicomaster we have a highly trained team with years of professional experience helping people with depression and other disorders. helping people with depression and other mood disorders. Si te interesa visitar nuestro centro en Madrid, puedes encontrarnos en la Calle de O’Donnell nº 32 (en la zona de El Retiro), o accediendo a nuestros datos de contacto haciendo clic aquí.
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- Kotov, R.; Gamez, W.; Schmidt, F.; Watson, D., et al. (2010). Linking "big" personality traits to anxiety, depressive, and substance use disorders: a meta-analysis. Psychological Bulletin. 136(5): pp. 768 - 821.
(Updated at Mar 28 / 2023)