Have you heard of Blue Monday? It's the most depressing day of the year. And allegedly today is the day.
In 2005, psychologist Cliff Arnall created a formula that determined the most depressing day of the year. Basically, it looks a little something like the equation at left, in which:
weather=W, debt=d, time since Christmas=T, time since failing our new year's resolutions=Q, low motivational levels=M and the feeling of a need to take action=Na. 'D' is not defined in the release, nor are units.
Math! Usually the date is the third Monday of January. Christmas is over, your December credit card bill arrives, it's cold, there are no fun holidays on the horizon, life is bleak.
But this year, a "high-protein dairy beverage" company called Upbeat (wha?!?!) has declared that today, January 6, is the most depressing day of the year. Upbeat came up with this by analyzing data from Twitter. Blue Monday came early, like that time your period ruined your vacation. Surprise.
But Pete Etchells at The Guardian is mad as hell and not going to take it anymore, calling the entire enterprise a "load of rubbish." He points out:
One recent study, published in December 2013 in the Journal of Affective Disorders, suggests that there's actually no seasonal variation in depression in the general population at all, and any studies that do suggest it might have just overestimated the prevalence.
Depression doesn't work like that, and to suggest that it's something minor that everyone goes through from time to time belittles actual clinical depression and makes those who suffer from it acutely aware of how difficult it is to explain to people what they're going through.
He makes great points. That said: Isn't there something that happens in the collective psyche when it's been cold too long and your vacation high (if you had one) has worn off? It might not be happening today, or next Monday, or the one after that. but it's out there, right now, looming in the freezing darkness of night. Just you wait. If calling it "depressing" isn't the right language, what about "Malaise Monday"?
Image by Mr. Aesthetics/Shutterstock.