Blue Monday—The Most Depressing Day of the Year?

Blue Monday—the third Monday of January—has been labelled the most depressing day of the year (though maybe not for British techno act New Order, whose 1983 hit by that name gets a regular outing on the date). But is there any truth to this assertion?

The emotional level of the date was calculated using a formula with factors such as weather condition, time since Christmas, time to payday and time since failing New Year resolutions, and it was publicised by Sky Travel in 2005 as part of a holiday advertising campaign. Attributed to ‘happiness consultant’ Dr. Cliff Arnall, the formula has been widely derided as ‘farcical’, ‘nonsensical’ and ‘meaningless’ by scientists.

However, the idea has gained some traction, and is new regularly rolled out by the media, usually on the third Monday of January, sometimes on the second or fourth.

Mental health charity Mind is particularly opposed to the spread of the idea, saying ‘Blue Monday contributes to damaging misconceptions about depression and trivialises an illness that can be life threatening… There is no credible evidence to suggest that one day in particular can increase the risk of people feeling depressed. We want to remind people that depression can happen at any time and that Mind is available to help people throughout the year.’

Dr Arnall says his intention in publicising Blue Monday was to ‘inspire people to take action and make bold life decisions’, but it seems to have had the opposite effect. He has also calculated the happiest day of the year—June 24th—but oddly enough, that never seems to get much publicity.

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