Why sad on birthday?
In addition to experiencing sadness, birthday depression can also include a sense of low energy or focusing on the past, including everything that you may or may not have accomplished so far. 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.
This article explores some possible causes and signs of birthday depression, and offers ways to cope with feelings of sadness on and around your birthday.
Is birthday depression associated with a mental health condition, or is it situational? “Our diagnostic manual (DSM-5) does not recognize birthday depression as a mental health disorder,” says Dr. Ernesto Lira de la Rosa, PhD, a licensed clinical psychologist and member of the media advisory group at the Hope for Depression Research Foundation.
However, he notes that this does not mean that individuals don’t experience depression or sadness during a birthday.
“For some, it could be tied to previous negative experiences with birthdays. Others may reflect on their lives and may not feel they are where they wanted to be by that specific age,” says Dr. Lira de la Rosa. “For others, birthdays can come during times when they are going through something difficult.”
There could be several reasons why somebody may experience birthday depression. Other potential causes as to why someone may feel down around their birthday may include:
“All of these and many other reasons can contribute to feeling sad during a birthday,” says Dr. Lira de la Rosa, who notes that all of these reasons are normal and valid as well.
Dr. Lira de la Rosa says many of the symptoms related to birthday depression are similar to symptoms of regular depression. So, how can you know if you have birthday depression?
Certain signs may alert you that you are experiencing the birthday blues, including but not limited to the following:
There are different treatments and coping mechanisms to choose from that may help to heal your birthday blues and simply ease any negative feelings.
To alleviate your birthday blues and better understand where they come from, you may benefit from trying any of these strategies outlined below.
“We tend to associate birthdays with celebrations and positive experiences, and that may not be the case for everyone. So, if you are not feeling excited or happy during this time, allow yourself permission to sit with the sadness,” says Dr. Lira de la Rosa.
Allowing yourself to feel your emotions without judgment can enable you to process the deeper meaning behind it and maybe relieve some of the sadness you feel.
Becoming aware of your experience and being kind to yourself during the process is important. Dr. Lira de la Rosa recommends turning inward to take inventory of your feelings, thoughts, and where you hold tension in your body to better understand what you may be going through.
“If we increase our awareness about our feelings, we can approach these feelings with compassion. We can self-soothe and remind ourselves that we are human beings and that when we feel a range of emotions, that is okay,” says Dr. Lira de la Rosa.
Express your feelings to a friend or family member. Someone you know may go through the same thing during their birthday, which can be validating and affirming to hear. Others may be able to listen and help you feel better.
Either way, being open and vulnerable about how you feel with someone who is willing to hold space for you to vent can provide relief.
“Some people may feel guilty for feeling this way when loved ones or friends want to celebrate and plan festivities, when the birthday person may just want to avoid these kinds of celebrations,” says Dr. Lira de la Rosa.
He encourages people who feel this way to vocalize their feelings, wants, and needs regarding their birthday and not do anything that makes them feel worse or guilty.
It’s your day, so do whatever you feel comfortable with, whether that’s pushing past your negative feelings to celebrate with loved ones or staying home to take care of yourself.
“Others may benefit from acknowledging that they may experience sadness during a birthday and put some things in place to help alleviate or lessen the intensity of the sadness. It could be something like preparing for the upcoming birthday and doing things that will help you feel connected to others or yourself.”
However you choose to prepare, prioritize doing activities that make you feel good and lead to improved emotional, physical, and mental health.
If you would like to find the root cause(s) for feeling sad on your birthday, practice deeper self-reflection with the help of a therapist.
“If the person feels ready to delve into these underlying reasons why they may experience birthday depression, then I would recommend giving therapy a try,” says Dr. Lira de la Rosa. “Others may want to explore their experiences of sadness during their birthdays and could also benefit from talking with a therapist as they explore these experiences.”
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Although birthdays are typically associated with happy feelings and positive experiences, this may not be the case for everybody.
Not everyone feels happy on their birthday. For some people, birthdays can be a source of sadness, anxiety, and dread. Also known as birthday blues or the birthday effect, birthday depression can cause you to experience intense, negative feelings in the weeks and days leading up to and on your birthday.
What is birthday depression, how does it differ from other types of depression, what are the symptoms, and most importantly, how can you avoid the birthday blues?
Read on to learn everything you need to know about birthday depression. We’re defining what depression on birthdays truly means and how it differs from clinical depression. We’re also addressing symptoms to be aware of and what the causes might be. Once you understand this, you can learn to be mindful of and avoid or manage triggers, so your depression doesn’t take over your birthday.
Finally, we’ll also share how to get help if you struggle during the time surrounding your birthday. Keep reading to get started.
Birthday depression isn’t a formal diagnosis, but it describes something that many people go through. It’s relatively common to feel depressed on birthdays. Negative feelings and depressing emotions can crop up in the days leading up to a birthday. They might continue for several days after your birthday has passed.
In addition to feelings of depression, you may experience various other emotions in the days surrounding your birth anniversary. For example, maybe you’re a bit more irritable, apathetic, or paranoid than usual. You also might feel emotionally drained or become fixated on past events.
While these feelings usually pass within a few weeks, birthday sadness can signify a more serious problem. Life events like birthdays can trigger depressive episodes. In addition, research shows an increased risk of dying by suicide on birthdays, especially for people 35 or over.
Unlike the birthday blues, depression is a clinical condition with specific diagnostic criteria. Someone feeling the blues on their birthday may experience symptoms associated with depression, including low mood or sleep disturbances. The difference is that genuine birthday depression symptoms only occur on the days around a birthday.
That said, birthday depression can be more common in people with other forms of depression or anxiety. If you experience depression on birthdays, and those symptoms pass within 2 weeks, you’re likely dealing with birthday depression. However, if symptoms last longer, you may be dealing with clinical depression or another mental health condition.
While some birthday depression symptoms are similar to clinical depression symptoms, others are related to the passage of time. Symptoms of birthday depression may include, but aren’t limited to, the following:
These symptoms generally occur leading up to and through the date of a birthday. Sometimes, you may even feel anxious or depressed when you’re even reminded of birthdays.
Even though birthdays are typically associated with happiness, by now you should know, it’s not uncommon to feel stressed or anxious about this day that’s supposed to be a joyous celebration. Many factors can cause depression on birthdays, such as:
Birthdays mark the passage of time. The anniversary of your birth can be a reminder of what you’ve yet to accomplish. As your birthday draws near, reflecting on where you are in life is normal.
We often feel pressured to reach important life milestones by a certain age. If you haven’t achieved your goals or lived up to expectations (whether societal or self-imposed), birthdays can make you feel like you’re running out of time or, worse, failing.
Significant dates like birthdays can bring up all kinds of memories. While some may be positive, other memories can be painful or unpleasant. Even if your thoughts of the past aren’t particularly traumatic, they might be upsetting. Research demonstrates it’s common to experience psychological distress on birthdays.
Birthdays can be a time of togetherness but can also make you feel lonely or isolated. Since they’re often spent with friends and families, if you don’t have a support system to celebrate with, it can lead to depression.
It’s understandable if you find it hard to be alone on your birthday. As the day draws near, it’s also normal if you find yourself reflecting on birthday celebrations in the past. If those dates are marked with feelings of loneliness, anticipating an upcoming birthday can cause you to become depressed.
Aging is a normal part of life, but this doesn’t mean it’s easy for everyone to come to terms with it. One study found that 87% of adults in the United States fear growing older. It makes sense if your birthdays cause you to think about the aging process and your own mortality.
We know that these fears tend to be more common as people age. A birthday reminds us all, especially as we get older, just how quickly time passes. This may make you anxious or paranoid about your health and the impending phases of life.
Birthdays can be a significant source of stress, especially if you’re expected to plan (or attend!) a birthday celebration. As a result, you may feel pressure to feign excitement or throw a big party you’re not interested in.
Some people find their birthdays generally to be overwhelming occasions. The stress of the celebration alone can cause you to dread your birthdays. These feelings can be especially prevalent around milestone birthdays, which tend to be big affairs.
It’s not unusual to feel depressed on a birthday, but thankfully, there are plenty of ways to cope with your negative emotions and learn how to get through a depressive episode on this special day. If your birthday is a source of discomfort, try turning to these tips:
If your birthday is causing you significant distress, or if your symptoms persist long after your birthday passes, consider talking to a mental health professional. Therapy can help you learn to understand and manage your feelings.
If you know your birthday tends to make you depressed or anxious, it’s important to understand you’re not alone. People of all ages struggle with similar feelings. With the help of a therapist, though, you can figure out why you’re always sad on your birthday.
Getting help is essential because while your emotions might be the birthday blues, they could also be a symptom of clinical depression. A therapist at Talkspace can talk to you about your feelings and provide effective treatment including therapy for depression.
Talkspace simplifies the process of getting mental health care in an affordable, accessible way. Our therapists are experienced, qualified, and available when and how you need them. Check out Talkspace today if you’re looking for ways to get a handle on your birthday depression.
I love myself and adore myself so much. Over the years though a little lesser because of the critical people in my life that I’m surrounded by all the time. I would love for someone to celebrate me, I’d just like that from a few people who’ve been fair to me all year and not just fake show it on my birthday. I’ve hated my birthday because my mom of all the people treats me horribly throughout the year. She takes and takes and takes and is never happy with anything I do. While on my birthday she wants to own it like oh I’m celebrating you. I gave birth to you. Suddenly I’m not the maid she hired by birth. She makes me feel like she’s doing the dues. Take a gift and any gift she wants to shove it on me. She doesn’t really care what I actually need otherwise even if it’s just basics. It makes me angry. Why would she be nice to be just because it’s my birthday? Then birthdays shouldn’t exist. Because I don’t want you to feel obligated to celebrate me for the heck of it.
I hate getting special treatment because of some default. I want to be special to someone for actually being special. You just tell me you love me randomly I’m going to love you forever. Don’t have to be materialistic at all. I don’t have too much expectations.
Also I don’t like outsiders who’ve not asked me how I’ve been for the longest of time, don’t know anything about me. Suddenly want to get cuddly and snuggly. Get the *uck off my face.(sorry about the language) but I feel strongly.
I would love a surprise and some celebrations but only if everyone enjoys it; not as an obligation to put me on some pedestal for a day only to bark at me the next. I don’t transform into an Angel on my birthday and the demon the next —then why the partiality why the shift? Why do you care what I plan to do in that 24 hours? Get a life! I don’t want your formality.
I expect -I’m human. Tomorrow is my birthday (and I already cried about it) that I wanted my boyfriend to be here with me. He’s not going to be here. If I voiced it he would get angry for being childish to have such expectations. I just want to spend time with people who want the best for me. Is that too much to ask. I don’t know many people to be honest. I have been living with rules that discouraged strong bonds and friendships. So whoever I know I would love to spend some time with them.