Taking On the New Year's Blues
One mechanism people use to control what lies ahead are New Year's
resolutions -- which therapists say are often carelessly made and seldom
followed through on. "The problem with resolutions are the expectations --
and most of us who make them don't make realistic ones," says Teresa
Gevedon, MD, a psychiatrist at the University of Kentucky Medical Center.
"I encourage goals, but setting resolutions tends to set you up to
"The positive thing about resolutions is that they center on the
assessment of where people are at and where they want to be -- the setting of
goals," says Riley. "The negative is, folks tend to have this all or
nothing idea of a resolution, and if it doesn't work out there's a sense of
Pollack offers a possible solution. "My millennium resolution would be
to make them so simple, clear, and immediately useful that you can't fail to
achieve them." Which might mean resolving to make a small improvement in
daily life -- such as paying the bills on time -- rather than promising to lose
50 pounds by spring.
Of course, before the resolutions come the celebrations -- and that's where
depressed people can really get into trouble. Therapists advise that if you're
feeling down about the holiday it might be a good idea to go easy on the
champagne. "Alcohol is a depressant. It brings on depressing feelings,"
Pollack says. "Second, it has a lingering kind of impact on the depletion
"Many folks get intoxicated and put themselves at risk physically and
emotionally," says Gevedon. "For someone who is depressed, alcohol is
absolutely toxic." Pollack says men may particularly be at risk
emotionally, because instead of thinking about pain, they try to cover it up by
taking action. In the case of New Year's Eve, that might mean some very
In the end, this New Year's Eve's position as a marker of time -- both
passed and to come -- may be the most emotionally troublesome aspect. It's the
likely reason why as Pollack says, the hangovers come Jan. 1 won't entirely be
due to alcohol. "Amongst the so-called booming economy, we have more
poverty than ever before, racial tension, pain, and heartache ... that was
supposed to have been cured -- and we're supposed to be happy," Pollack
says. "And that's why the millennium feels empty. And when it's all over,
there will be an even deeper sense of emptiness."
His advice: Make it special, but not too special. Downplay it in advance.
Make reasonable plans -- having a nice dinner for example, or making it a point
to be with someone you really care about.
Martin agrees. "Gee, it's the millennium. ... I should be doing
something very, very special. Whether that be a cruise to Easter Island or a
$500 glass of champagne. ... What I advise people is to keep it simple. You'll
have a much better time than trying to do something too expensive or too
adventurous," she says.
Which certainly isn't to suggest you can't have a good time. Just be mindful
that two days later for most, new century or not, it's back to the grind.