Does Blue Monday really exist, or is it a load of ****?

It’s Monday. Or, as the PR industry and media would have it, it’s “Blue Monday” – supposedly the “most depressing day of the year”. Every year the “phenomenon” rears its head on the third Monday of January (have a quick glance at Google to see how many articles have been published online in the past 24hrs). But where does this idea come from and what is the basis for it?

The origin of “Blue Monday”

  • The notion that there is a “most depressing day of the year” was first put forward by Cliff Arnall in 2005. Arnall’s formula that led to him pinpointing a particular day was as follows:

By taking into account various factors such as avg temperature (C), days since last pay (P), days until next bank holiday (B), avg hours of daylight (D) and number of nights in during mth (N), we create a formula such as C(P+B) N+D. This formula allows us to work out the day with the highest ‘depression factor’ which you can then use as a focus for making things better, booking your holiday etc …

Is there really such a thing as “Blue Monday”?

  • Dean Burnett (The Guardian) looks at the methodology of such formulas and exposes how difficult it would be to actually conduct quality research on such a phenomenon.
  • Ben Goldacre looks at the evidence of Blue Monday on his blog (post published in 2009), conducting a miniature literature review to see if Arnall’s formula really stacks up.
  • Peter Etchells (also The Guardian) points out its flaws and also looks at a more recent claim to the “most depressing day of the year”.

Is there a relationship between season and mood?

Not that any of this matters as far as the media are concerned. No doubt there will already be countless articles online about this phenomenon by the time I hit publish on this post…

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