If you’re feeling down today, perhaps it’s because it’s Blue Monday, a term coined by researcher Dr. Cliff Arnall for what he claims is the “most depressing day of the year”.
Arnall, formerly a researcher from Cardiff University, introduced his theory about Blue Monday seven years ago based on a mathematical formula that started with a chain of events calculating the third Monday in January as symbolically the worst day of the year; thus, Blue Monday for 2013 is today, January 21.
According to the Blue Monday website, the equation Arnall came up with to designate the “most depressing day of the year” is based on six factors: 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).
“The formula calculates that Monday (the 21st) is symbolically the worst day of 2013, when the Christmas glow has faded away, New Year’s resolutions have been broken, cold Winter weather has set in and credit card bills will be landing on doormats across the land – while the January paycheck is still some way away,” explains the website.
Given today’s economy and the jobless rate, there’s certainly plenty to feel down about at this time, but keep in mind that there are critics of Arnall's theory, which has been discredited by many in the academic community.
Nevertheless, there is good news about depression, as there are a variety of effective ways to combat the blues, including modern anti-depressants with minimal side effects and talk therapy. However, if you’re not interested in taking medicines or opening up to a therapist, a recent study shows that regular exercise can be a blues banisher.
In a study published in The Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, 29.5 percent of patients suffering from serious depression had achieved remission of symptoms after taking a walk. According to Dr. Madhukar Trivedi, a professor of psychiatry at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas, that is “a very robust result.”
Still, nearly 70 percent of the patients in the study did not achieve full remission. Failure rates were particularly high for women with a family history of depression, which Dr. Trivedi speculated may be due to genetics. But for anyone who doesn’t respond well to anti-depressant medication and/or talk therapy, both of which are typically recommended by doctors as a first-line-of-defense, then walking – or any regular exercise program – may also be useful in battling the blues.