Blue Monday

Today (January 17) is “Blue Monday“. In the CNN Health, Kristen Rogers and Rob Picheta write “research hasn’t proved that there is any one day more depressing than all the others, but it’s actually a PR stunt that has unfortunately cemented itself into modern culture”.

Blue Monday is the name given to a day in January (typically the third Monday of the month) said by a UK travel company, Sky Travel, to be the most depressing day of the year. The concept was first published in a 2005 press release from the company, which claimed to have calculated the date using an “equation”. It takes into account weather conditions and thus only applies to the Northern Hemisphere.

From the Wikipedia

Explaining the Sky Travel “equation” further, CNN Health writes “The formula (developed by UK-based psychologist Cliff Arnall) was meant to analyze when people booked holidays, assuming that people were most likely to buy a ticket to paradise when they were feeling down. Arnall was asked to come up with the best day to book a holiday trip, so he thought of reasons why people might want to take a holiday — and thus, the gloomiest day of the year was born.”

There is generally more sadness in the winter time and January is not uncommon at all for overall more sadness among folks. So rather than dial in to one specific day, I think the more interesting question is what it is about the winter that affects our mood.

Dr. Ravi Shah, a psychiatrist at Columbia University’s Irving Medical Center in New York City (Source: CNN)

The UK-psychologist Cliff Arnall was paid £1,200 to come up with Blue Monday, writes CNN Health. In a recent interview Arnall told CNN:

I had no idea it would gain the popularity that it has. I guess a lot of people recognize it in themselves. .. My problem with academic psychology and peer reviewed publications … they don’t really make that much difference to regular people.

Dr. Antonis Kousoulis, director of the UK Mental Health Foundation’s efforts for England and Wales, told CNN:

This is not the right way to raise awareness. By saying this single day is the most depressing day of the year, without any evidence, we are trivialising how serious depression can be. Mental health is the biggest health challenge of our generation. Trivialising it is completely unacceptable.

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)

According to the CNN Health, a winter blues phenomenon, more clinically known as seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is real. “It’s a form of depression that people experience usually during the fall and winter months when there is less sunlight. The most difficult months for people with SAD in the US tend to be January and February, but it improves with the arrival of spring”.

Depression is not a single day phenomenon. Depression is a clinical syndrome that has to be at least two weeks, most of the day, most days over time.

Dr. Ravi Shah to CNN

Dr Shah suggested in the CNN interview that the easiest way to take action against SAD is to get exposure to natural light and keep yourself active physically, mentally and socially, .. that’s going to go a long way.