Monday, January 16, 2012

Blue Monday: Truth or Fiction

The third Monday of January is often cited as the most depressing day of the year and is referred to as "Blue Monday." For many of us, January is a depressing time. There are many reasons why someone may feel "down" during January: the weather is awful, there is less daylight, holiday festivities are over, and debt from Christmas shopping becomes due. There is even a website devoted to Blue Monday and some "evidence" to suggest that suicide rates peak during this time of year. But is "Blue Monday" fact or just fiction?

The term "Blue Monday" was first identified by Cliff Arnall, formerly of Cardiff University. It marks the symbolic time in January when people suffer from a series of combined depressive effects. His date was devised using the following mathematical formula:
[W + (D-d)] x TQ / M x Na
The model uses six identifiable factors: Weather (W), debt (d), time since Christmas (T), time since failing our New Year's resolutions (Q), low motivational levels (M), and the feeling we need to take action (Na).

Most scientists agree that Mr. Arnall's formula and "Blue Monday" claim are complete rubbish. Clinical depression is a complex condition that cannot be explained by a simplistic formula. There are many factors that contribute to depression, and it's extremely unlikely that there's a reliable set of external factors that cause depression in an entire population at the same time every year. So if you're a bit depressed today, I suggest taking some time to indulge your creativity or curiosity and enjoy this Blue Monday.

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