Reasons Why Birthday Depression Is So Common

Updated August 11, 2023by Regain Editorial Team

During our formative years, birthdays usher in a time of celebration. Having parties with our friends and getting lots of gifts from those friends, along with our relatives, all make turning one year older a joyous time in our lives that we look forward to.

But at some point, for many of us, that feeling fades. For example, as we grow older, many of us don’t care too much about birthdays anymore. And some of us begin to feel serious sadness when that same day comes around each year.

"Birthday blues" are a very real thing. This is when our behavior begins to change as our birthday approaches, and we can display nervousness or sadness. 

So, what brings about birthday blues, and what can be done about it?

Looking Further Into Birthday Blues

While no two people are the same, there are certainly a number of factors that come into play to make someone feel bad about their birthday. It doesn’t even necessarily have to be the same reason each year; that reason can change over time.

Although there may be other factors causing birthday blues, here are come common factors which might cause that blue feeling around your birthday.

Got A Case Of The Birthday Blues? Our Therapists Can Help

Aging. This is perhaps the biggest reason behind birthday blues. Let’s face the facts: birthdays are awesome when we are young because of the presents we get, the time we spend with friends and family, and because we have our whole lives ahead of us.

Thinking about aging and our mortality is not something we typically do when we are young. But as we grow older, those thoughts only become natural. So instead of looking forward to another celebration, it reminds us that we are a year older. And, on a down note, it makes us feel closer to the end of the road.

Few of us look forward to getting older, and our birthday is a reminder that we are doing just that. While some think about being and acting young, it is only natural to consider how our lives are going and, realistically, how much time is still ahead of us.

High Celebration Expectations. Some of us have particularly high expectations for our day of birth each year. However, expecting to have a huge party or celebration or be showered with amazing gifts can lead to major disappointment when none of it materializes exactly how we imagine.

This may not be quite as common as looking towards our remaining years, but those disappointing experiences can lead to birthday blues all the same. Unfortunately, that sadness can be difficult to mitigate if expectations have not been met.

Less Excitement All Around. Depending on how your family operates, people can begin to dread birthdays simply because there isn’t much excitement behind them. We throw big birthday parties for kids because we want them to feel special and have fun.

But when we are adults, there is less of a focus on birthdays and gifts. So, it is only natural that as we age, there is less excitement from both our families and us when that day rolls around. Sure, there may be activities like going to dinner or relaxing with friends, but those are generally more reserved than having a huge party.

There is also the added weight of adulthood that weighs down the excitement. When we are kids, looking forward to a birthday can take up an entire week. But when we are adults, there are responsibilities to take care of and work to do. So, there may seem to be no time to be excited.

Social Pressures. This is becoming more of a regularity thanks to social media and entertainment. Have you ever seen a birthday take place on a television show or a movie and wished that your party could be that way? Maybe you’ve seen a friend’s post on Instagram or Twitter and thought that everyone else’s birthday parties are something special.

This creates a constant feeling that our birthday is just not good enough if it is quietly spent with close friends or family and not at a big, raging bash.

Finding Ways To Combat The Birthday Blues

So, what can be done to keep those feelings away so that we can enjoy this milestone day every year? Here are a few ways to stave off these feelings and keep the birthday blues at bay.

Celebrate Your Way. One of the most important things to keep in mind about birthdays as we get older is that they should be what we want them to be. So instead of creating this ideology in our heads that it has to be this massive, extravagant celebration, we should find what is important to us.

If that means having a big bash, great. If it means spending quality time with friends or family, that should be fine as well. However, it is a day where a little bit of selfishness is okay. So do the things you want on your birthday because it is a day for you.

Adhering to plans that others have made, even if they are not plans you want to partake in, can lead to that birthday sadness that so many people feel every year.

Get Off To A Good Start. When you wake up on the morning of your birthday, try to think about having a positive day even if you are not particularly anticipating it. Starting out with a good frame of mind is a good way to ensure that you maintain that frame of mind for the rest of the day.

Maybe start by listing reasons that you are grateful for in your life. That can help to keep a positive mentality going forward instead of focusing on another year being gone or more negative thoughts.

If you have the opportunity to do the things that you want to do, do them. But, again, it is your day. So do the things that you want. Maybe make a special breakfast or watch a movie in bed, whatever it is that gives you some joy.

If you have to work on your birthday, try to give it a little variety. Order lunch from one of your favorite local restaurants or other little changes that can make it feel like a day different than any other.

Don’t Make Too Many Plans. One of the reasons people struggle with birthdays is that there are too many things on the slate. Gatherings with friends, a party with family, special time with a significant other; are all things that can make the day feel too busy, too stressful, and put additional pressure on the birthday itself.

Keeping things simple can lower the risk of feeling overwhelmed and of anything going wrong with plans that have been set up for the day. It can also lead to a little less stress on what is supposed to be a special day.

Limit The Sadness. Feeling sad on a birthday is both normal and okay. But there is a fine line between experiencing some sadness and wallowing in it. Limiting the amount of grief you are willing to experience on your birthday can help keep it from feeling overwhelmingly sad.

Crazy as it may seem, it might be a good idea to accept that sadness will happen. This allows one to accept that sadness will occur so they can process it and move forward.

Got A Case Of The Birthday Blues? Our Therapists Can Help

Tell People. Another major reason that the birthday blues happen is that there isn’t enough acknowledgment. It’s okay to tell people, “It’s my birthday tomorrow.” There isn’t anything wrong with letting family and friends know that they can make a little bit of a fuss when your big day arrives. It doesn’t have to be an over-the-top party; just being told “happy birthday” can be enough to make someone’s day.

The older we get, the harder birthdays may be for many of us. But taking some of the aforementioned steps can make those days feel more special and less sad.


If you're struggling with birthday blues, Regain can help. Our licensed therapists can help you any time, anywhere you have an internet connection. Regain offers affordable, convenient support from someone who's matched to fit your needs. They can help you sort through your birthday feelings and find ways to celebrate the accomplishment of making it through another year.

Depression affects many people. Online therapy has proved to be an effective way of treating depression, along with many other mental health conditions. In many cases, those with depression have found online therapy more effective than in-person therapy, especially since it can be done without leaving home.

Birthdays are what you make of them. Try to make them a day of fun and celebration if you can, even if you only celebrate in small ways.  Don't hesitate to seek support from family, friends, or a therapist if the birthday blues are keeping you from celebrating your special day.

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