Is Blue Monday fact or fiction?

Is Blue Monday fact or fiction?

Did you know that the third Monday in January (the 15th this year) is regarded as the most depressing day of the year? It’s even got a name: Blue Monday.

But do you know why?

It may surprise you to know that it wasn’t a health-related study which uncovered this so-called ‘fact’. It was actually a travel company who called on a psychologist to formulate the saddest day.

And they then launched Blue Monday, and encouraged customers to book holidays to cheer themselves up. For some, this was a very good PR stunt. But others have suggested using mental health and wellbeing to try and sell holidays isn’t the best idea.

The original formula used various factors such as:

  • the weather
  • increased debt after Christmas
  • people’s sadness at returning to work after time off during the festive season
  • the likelihood that some people will have broken their New Year’s Resolutions by now

But even the man who came up with it has now distanced himself from it. Other critics say it minimises mental health to imply depression can be contained to just one day a year.

Is Blue Monday all bad?

Yet there may be well some merit in considering the impact of this time of year on people’s wellbeing. Changes like being outside less due to the cold weather, altered sleeping habits, hormone changes, and of course the rain and cold itself, are likely to have a negative impact on mood.

And this is especially influential for those who have Seasonal Affective Disease. SAD affects at least 3% of the general population across the globe (and up to 20% of those with major depressive disorder and 25% with bipolar disorder).

One positive impact that Blue Monday has had over the years is getting people talking about mental health. Although it’s so important that we all recognise the long-lasting impact of diagnosable conditions, and even dips in wellbeing.

Around one in four of the general population has a mental health issue. And a third of people with a long-term physical health condition will also develop an issue such as anxiety or depression.

So, whether you think Blue Monday is fact or fiction, let’s use it as a springboard to focus on mental health all-year-round.