January is a month of good intentions but also of small changes that can upset a family, including children. The winter melancholy that is called in common jargon winter blues (but which is part of the disorders of the Seasonal Affective Disorders group) this month can find its maximum expression in the Blue Monday, Monday most Monday of all. Blue Monday is celebrated (although it is not really an anniversary to remember) on the third Monday of January and has been considered thesaddest day of the year. But what does this unfortunate record owe? Here is its history and its origins and let’s find out together if its existence rests on a scientific basis or not.
The story of Blue Monday
The theorist who is credited with the birth of this curious anniversary, felt above all in Great Britain, is called Cliff Arnall. The destruction of his equation appeared in 2013 in The Guardian with an explanation that aimed to overturn the scientist’s view. Until that moment, however, Arnall’s version had been considered realistic all over the world: at the time of the launch he was indeed a researcher of the University of Cardiff, therefore an authoritative member of the scientific community. His Blue Monday equation first appeared in 2005 with a study signed by him. In this study it was said that the third Monday in January is the perfect day to identify the one with the highest degree of depression, especially in adults. The problem with this Monday is that it is a clear distance from the “last pay day” (which is anyway a variable data, which changes not only from country to country but even depending on the company!), From the most public holidays neighbors, by the “number of nights spent at home in the month and” the number of average daytime hours. “By crossing these data, Arnall had come to define the third Monday of January like the saddest day of the year.
But does this story have a scientific basis? Absolutely not: Arnall signed the studio for a SKY marketing project, released in 2005: an initiative designed precisely to convince people that that winter sadness, that melancholy that often comes after Christmas holidays, actually has a foundation scientific. We have already seen that it has it: in psychology, Seasonal Affective Disorders have been studied for years and analyze the influence of the change of season on mood. In this case, however, the Blue Monday gimmick has no scientific basis and the equation theorized by Arnall was built around the table, as he himself admitted, for advertising purposes.
The sadness of the change of season and the Winter Blues
Despite the news launched by Arnell (and then even denied by the author himself, on his Twitter profile where there are several places with the hashtag #stopbluemonday) that has taken hold in the last fifteen years, Blue Monday has no scientific basis, it is not fruit of an equation and the sadness of January is linked more to environmental and subjective factors than to an intricate result of calculations.
However, there are psychological drifts, to which even small children can be subject, who undergo a surge precisely with the change of season. The case of the winter blues is emblematic, as is the sadness of the end of summer and of back to school. As stated in the research “Seasonal Affective Disorder: An Overview” published in The Journal of Biological and Medical Rhythm Research, this form of seasonal affective disorder has strong links with depression, which worsens at the end of the summer and reaches its peak. after Christmas. In this case, the scientific bases are there, they have been studied in depth for decades and have nothing to do with the legend of Blue Monday, which is instead a marketing gimmick to give a more basic and popular explanation to the questions we ask ourselves about sudden changes. of mood and small moments of sadness of the winter period.
Sources for the article: The Journal of Biological and Medical Rhythm Research, “Seasonal Affective Disorder: An Overview”; The Guardian, “Blue Monday: a depressing day of pseudoscience and humiliation”