The Myth Of “Blue Monday” Just Won’t Die

Photographed Alexandra Gavillet.
Every year we're told that the third Monday in January is "Blue Monday," the "most depressing day of the year." There's zero actual science behind that assertion, yet here we are again, facing another supposedly maximally-depressing day. So where did this silly idea even come from? As we explained previously, the original equation that gave us Blue Monday was created by "psychologist, life coach, and happiness consultant" Cliff Arnall for a travel company's ad campaign. He took various factors into account, including how long it's been since Christmas, the amount of debt people are facing, and, of course, the weather. But since its introduction, the Blue Monday equation has faced an onslaught of criticism as both demeaning the severity of actual clinical depression and as yet another example of problematic pseudoscience gone mainstream. Obviously, there's no such tidy equation for clinical depression, which is a disorder far more complex than an episode of "holiday blues." And even if we're just talking about a shift in your normal mood, that's something so personal and individual that it could hardly be captured for even the majority of us with a single equation. At this point, no credible expert will tell you there is a universal "most depressing day of the year." Arnall himself has since begged us to ignore the whole idea. And even the travel agency has updated its campaign to #StopBlueMonday after years of people making fun of the idea. Of course, if you do feel like this day holds some extra gloominess for you, that's fine. If you don't, that's also fine. But please don't let an equation — especially this one — take over your life.

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