Claim: Scientists have determined a date in January is statistically the most depressing day of the year.
Example: [Collected via Twitter, January 2015]
Social media users have frequently posted about "Blue Monday," a term assigned to any number of specific days in January. Rumors abound that a particular date (typically a Monday) has been deemed by scientists or researchers to be the most depressing of the entire year, with a number of factors influencing the calculation of this bummer of a date. Going by popular lore, you might believe we scarcely can control our level of contentment on that day given all the mathematical reasons for us to be well and truly miserable.
The concept of a "Blue Monday" took root in 2005. In that year, a press release detailed a purported formula that calculated factors including weather, debt, time elapsed since Christmas, and unsuccessful New Year's resolutions. When those factors were combined and the "sadness" algorithm applied to them,
Almost immediately the claim was regarded by many as a shaky one because the cited factors were clearly vague and nearly impossible to quantify, and because of the dubious impetus behind the "formula." The calculations were attributed to a
The formula was devised to help a travel company "analyze when people book holidays and holiday trends," said Alex Kennedy, spokesperson for Porter Novelli, a
It seems that people are most likely to buy a ticket to paradise when they feel like hell.
"People feel bleak when they have nothing planned, but once they book a holiday they have a goal, they work toward having time off and a relaxing period," Kennedy said.
"Blue Monday — January Blues Day is Officially Announced: The 26th January is the most depressing day in the calendar for the majority of Brits as measured by a simple mathematical formula developed on behalf of Sky Travel.
"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 ..." This is almost exactly as it was when Arnall revealed his important work to the world.
He added: "I was originally asked to come up with what I thought was the best day to book a summer holiday but when I started thinking about the motives for booking a holiday, reflecting on what thousands had told me during stress management or happiness workshops, there were these factors that pointed to the third Monday in January as being particularly
He calculated the date using a variety of factors including weather conditions, debt levels, failed New Year's resolutions and the number of days that had elapsed since the end of the Christmas holidays.
But over the past three years, researchers analysed more than 2 million tweets posted by Britons in January looking for negative language and phrases indicating a drop in mood. They found that today, there will be nearly five times the average number of tweets relating to guilt, as people abandon their promises to pursue a healthier lifestyle.
In short, the specifics behind claims about January's hosting the most depressing day of the year have shifted, but the idea both originated with and is mainly advanced by marketers and public relations firms. No studies or evidence have proved any one calendar date is more gloomy than any others, and the formula linked with the calculation of such a date has no real scientific basis. Critics have noted that assigning arbitrary or transient causes (such as the arrival bills or the end of Christmas vacation) to clinical depression could adversely impact its sufferers by tacitly suggesting the condition is treatable through methods as simple as booking a vacation or buying a drink.
Originally published: 14 January 2015
Last updated: 18 January 2016
Burnett, Dean. "Blue Monday: a depressing day of pseudoscience and humiliation." The Guardian. 16 January 2012 Carlile, Jennifer. "Jan. 24 Called Worst Day of the Year." MSNBC.com. 24 January 2005. Goldacre, Ben. "MS = Media Slut, but CW = Corporate Whore." The Guardian. 15 December 2006. Jamieson, Alastair. "Ignore 'Most Depressing Day of Year' Says Blue Monday Psychologist." The Telegraph. 17 January 2010 Webb, Sam. "Feeling Glum? Well It Is Blue Monday." The Daily Mail. 5 January 2015.