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Blue Monday: The So-Called Most Depressing Day of the Year

But is there scientific proof to back up these claims?

| 2 min read

But is there scientific proof to back up these claims?

Beware, Blue Monday has arrived!  The third Monday of January is known as “the most depressing day of the year,” when we are the most miserable, according to the psychologist Dr. Cliff Arnall.

Back in 2005, Arnall was asked by travel company SkyTravel to create a “scientific formula” for this phenomenon as part of a marketing campaign, but since then the term Blue Monday has become common phrase.  However, can you truly measure happiness or is this just a PR gimmick?  Let’s find out.  Here is the equation:

Happiness = [W + (D - d)] x [(T x Q)/(M x NA)]


W is the weather

D is debt

d is monthly salary

T is time since Christmas

Q is time since failure to keep your New Year’s resolution

M is low motivation level

NA is the need to take action

Honestly, I do not know how this equation could be used in practice.  How do you scale motivation level and need to take action?  According to numerous scientists, including Dean Burnett, a doctor of neuroscience, the equation has been debunked and labeled as “pseudoscience.”  Burnett told The Guardian, “It is unscientific. It is pseudoscientific. It is uberpseudoscientific.”  

Not only that, researchers are worried that this equation could potentially damage the credibility of real science, and trivialize mental illness — something almost 1 in 5 people suffer from in the United States.  “For some people, these are substantial health issues they have to grapple with,” said Dr. Scott Patten of the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) to The Hamilton Spectator.  “That's serious, and to have people play games with it for marketing could be damaging in that respect.”

According to the CMHA, some people think Blue Monday has the most suicides, which is not true.  Although Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) — a type of depression that tends to occur (and recur) as the days grow shorter in the fall and winter — may come into play during the colder months, individuals who experience those symptoms experience it 40 percent of the year.

If you are experiencing depression today, Patten advises that you should seek professional help to deal with those thoughts.  However, if you are just feeling a little down, he adds that having good relationships, a hobby, and exercising (both physically and mentally) are effective ways to combat feeling blue.

Read next: Technologies to Defeat the Winter Blues

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