Do You Have Birthday Depression?
Although birthdays are celebrated in numerous cultures, they can also be a time for people to think about their achievements and failures regarding the life goals that they connect to a certain age. Also known as birthday blues; it refers to the feeling of sadness or disinterest in celebrating or thinking about your birthday. As we age, feeling depressed about an approaching birthday is common.
For many people, birthdays are a reminder of horrible past experiences, unachieved goals, fear of getting old or loneliness. These feelings may arise in the days leading up to a person’s birthday, on the actual day and for some time after as well.
Have you ever found yourself always feeling sad when your birthday
approaches? Read along to understand why:
Causes of Birthday Depression
There are several reasons why you may experience birthday depression and they include:
Bad Past Experience: This means something traumatising which happened around your birthday or on your birthday. Whether it is a horrible birthday experience you might have experienced during your childhood or the death of someone special; if you have experienced trauma, your birthday may be a trigger.
Mid-life crisis: A mid-life crisis can make you question your identity and priorities.
Isolation and loneliness: Not having any friends or family to share your birthday can evoke feelings of sadness.
Fear of getting old
Unachieved goals or expectations: Not accomplishing the goals you wanted to achieve at a certain age. When this happens, there can be feelings of anger, sadness and disappointment.
So how do you know you have the birthday blues?
• Persistent feelings of sadness and depression with a change in your mood that lasts for several days surrounding your birthday.
• You may desire to isolate yourself from everyone; including friends and family because you don’t want to celebrate your birthday.
• You are crying more often than usual.
• You find yourself ruminating on the past and goals that you haven’t accomplished.
• You may not have much energy or motivation to do things.
• There are changes in the way you sleep and eat.
• You find it difficult to concentrate or focus.
• You hate birthday wishes so you want to avoid the actual day of your birthday.
Coping With Birthday Depression
There are different coping mechanisms to choose from that may help ease birthday blues.
Make peace with whatever emotions you experience about
You need to acknowledge and address those feelings without any self-judgement or criticism. Feeling these emotions without judgement can help reduce the sadness and stress you feel.
Celebrate Your Day However You Feel Comfortable
Your birthday is a day entirely for you, so instead of ignoring your birthday, do something that feels right to you and your personality.
Don’t be afraid to prioritise your feelings, wants, and needs. It is your day so you can spend it however you like! Taking control will reduce stress and improve your mood.
Reframe your thinking
You can do this by keeping a journal of your achievements no matter how small. This will go a long way in helping you feel good about yourself on your birthday. Most times, we focus too much on failure such that we take some of our achievements for granted. So on your birthday, incorporate positive thinking about your failures and write down all of your achievements, say them aloud and be proud of your successes.
Practice Self Awareness and Self Compassion
Becoming self-aware and showing yourself compassion makes a huge impact on how you feel and how the day goes on your birthday. If you find yourself engaging in self-criticism, redirect and reframe your thinking by highlighting things about you that make you feel good about yourself. Be kind to yourself. You can also express your feelings to a loved one; they may be able to make you feel better.
Have Fun, of course
Lastly, don’t forget to try and have fun. Practice self-compassion and prioritise activities that make you feel good and can lead to improved mental health.
When to speak to a therapist
According to AdedoyinAjayi, a licensed Psychotherapist, birthday depression isn’t a diagnosed mental illness and it is not recognised in the Diagnostic Statistical Manual (DSM) for mental illness as well. However, due to the consistency of the symptoms that surround birthday depression, it is recognised as a phenomenon which is worth mentioning.
“Seeing a therapist for birthday depression is going to be when it is interfering with your day-to-day activities. If you find yourself losing concentration and it is affecting your work or when you find yourself having suicidal thoughts or when you notice that your sleeping and eating habits have changed. It is important that you see a therapist when you notice these things.”
Although birthdays are typically associated with happy feelings and positive experiences, this may not be the case for everybody and managing birthday blues begins with self-awareness.