It’s a formula created as part of an ad campaign, but Blue Monday, the most depressing day of the year, can serve as a reminder to take care of your mental health.
Never heard of Blue Monday?
Psychologist Cliff Arnall developed a formula in 2005 that factors in the weather, debt, time since Christmas and failing our New Year’s resolutions and low motivational levels.
He then arrived to the theory that the third Monday in January is the most depressing day of the year.
Arnall’s theory is not backed by psychologists and has been discredited by numerous experts. But Blue Monday can be a day to recognize depression and bipolar conditions.
This year, the day falls on Jan. 21.
While Blue Monday has been described as pseudopsychology, the day can help bring attention and awareness to seasonal depression.
“We do have a seasonal pattern of phone calls [regarding depression and bipolar depression],” said Leah Nakamura, a facilitator and founder of the Depression Bipolar Support Alliance (DBSA).
DBSA sees calls for help increasing in the spring and the fall when the time changes and days get shorter, Nakamura said. The holidays also cause people to become depressed and anxious about family gatherings or being alone, she said.
Situational depression can come about due to the loss of a spouse or job, she said.
During this time of the year, Nakamura said, many people wake up, look at the clock and feel it would be easier to go back to sleep than to face the day.
There are four DBSA support groups that meet in Arlington Heights and attract about 60 people on average, Nakamura said.
“We have people who come in for seasonal depressive disorder and even people who have bipolar disorder, who have a cyclic nature to their illness,” she said.
Some symptoms of depression:
- A depressed mood for most of the day, nearly every day.
- Becoming irritable with loved ones.
- Diminished interest in almost all activities in the day, nearly every day.
- Significant weight loss or weight gain.
- Insomnia or sleeping too much.
- Feeling restless or slowed down.
- Fatigue or loss of energy nearly everyday.
- Feeling of worthlessness or excessive guilt every day.
- Diminished ability to think or concentrate.
“There’s also self-care,” she said. “Even (if you have) a clinical depression, you need self-care. Eating right, getting enough sleep, talking to someone” is helpful, she added.
Alexian Mental Health Center, in Arlington Heights, offers many mental health services, she said.
DBSA also welcomes new members in its support groups. More information is available on its website.