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18th Jan 2021

‘Blue Monday’ is complete bullsh*t – here’s why

It was invented for a pretty grim reason.

Anna O'Rourke

'Blue Monday' is complete bullsh*t - here's why

Yes, Mondays can be crap. Yes, January can be crap. But is denoting one Monday in January as the most depressing day of the year helpful?

Today,  January 18, is ‘Blue Monday’. It’s the one day of the year, we’re always told, when we’re the most depressed.

It’s attributed to Dr Cliff Arnall, a former psychology tutor who put his name to it in 2005.

As it turns out, he was commissioned by a travel company to put his name to it as part of a campaign to sell holidays.

The idea takes into account factors including temperature, daylight, length of the month, length of time until the next bank holiday and failed New Year’s resolutions and neatly concludes that the third Monday in January is the most miserable of all.

Knowing the background to this ‘scientific’ conclusion, it’s pretty clear that Blue Monday has f*ck all to do with depression.

It’s a fact that lots of us find the winter tough but genuine depression doesn’t come about because it’s ages until the next bank holiday.

Mental health issues run deep and the reasons for them can’t be explained away.

To write depression off as side effect of the season, a short-term patch of feeling down that we just have to get through, does a disservice to anyone who has to live with it.

'Blue Monday' is complete bullsh*t - here's why

The concept also fails to recognise that feeling sh*t can strike at any time.

Journalist Bryony Gordon hit the nail on the head in an Instagram post about Blue Monday a few years back.

She shared her own experience of dealing with depression and highlighted that it doesn’t just come along in January.

“According to professors of fuckwittery at the University of Trying to Sell You Stuff, today is the most depressing of the year, owing to its peak Januaryness. Or something. Well tell that to me last JULY when I couldn’t get out of bed for, ooh, what seemed like forever.

“This shit undermines a serious mental illness. You can be depressed at any time of the year.

“And if you are depressed right now, know that I’m spurring you on, letting you know that THIS is the kind of smile that can await you on the other side. You’ve got this, even if you think you haven’t.”

A post shared by bryonygordon (@bryonygordon) on

Even mental health charities are debunking the idea.

Laura Peters of Rethink Mental Illness has said that the science “doesn’t add up”.

“There’s no such thing as the most depressing day of the year,” she said. “It was invented as a marketing ploy to sell holidays, and people live with depression all year round.”

So, yeah. In short, Blue Monday is a cop-out.

It’s a cop-out for mental health in the same way that Valentine’s Day is a cop-out for love; it doesn’t get to the root of the issue and is designed to give the media something to talk about and companies a reason to market stuff at you.

Look out for yourself and others today and every other day and don’t be told how to feel any time of the year.


Here are some organisations that provide resources on mental health and can help if you need it.


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