The short answer is…No!
The concept of Blue Monday arose out of a press release from British travel company, Sky Travel in 2005. The press release cited the work of psychologist, Dr. Cliff Arnall, who supposedly constructed a “formula” that accurately predicted that the third Monday in January was the most depressing day of the year. The “formula” considered many factors, including weather, probable personal debt levels, new year resolutions, and generally lower levels of motivation. However, in a 2018 article published online by British newspaper, The Daily Mirror, Dr. Arnall said that it was never his intention to give Blue Monday a negative connotation3. Rather, his intent was to encourage people to take the opportunity for new beginnings and change. Intention or not, the general consensus among the psychology community is that this is pseudoscience and there is no support for the idea that a specific day is the most depressing day of the year.
Is there any research to support the idea of “Blue Monday”?
Stone, Schneider, and Harter (2012) investigated this question and found strong support for “better mood on weekends and Fridays, but there was minimal support for a Blue Monday effect and no differences were observed between Saturdays and Sundays” (N = 340,000)1. Similarly, Stone, Hedges, Neale, and Satin (1985) found that although the sample “thought that their mood was lowest on Monday, mood measures collected on a daily basis did not support the belief. Monday’s mood was not different than mood on Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday, but positive mood was higher and negative mood was lower on the weekend; measures of depressed mood did not vary by day of the week“2.
Relationship to Seasonal Affective Disorder
According to the Cleveland Clinic, seasonal depression, also called Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), is a type of depression. It’s triggered by the change of seasons and most commonly begins in late fall. Symptoms include feelings of sadness, lack of energy, loss of interest in usual activities, oversleeping and weight gain. Clinically, this disorder is classified in the DSM (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders) as a major depressive disorder that occurs at a specific time of year “with seasonal pattern” specifier. There is no association or correlation with the idea of a “Blue Monday” and Season Affective Disorder. It is important to make this distinction and not trivialize the very real symptoms experienced by those afflicted with SAD.
Blue Monday was surfaced as part of a marketing plan for a travel company and the strategy seems to achieved it purpose. Annually, Blue Monday gets prime time on mainstream media, particularly in temperate countries, where there is a winter season (which may explain why some try to associate “Blue Monday” with SAD). There are products and strategies being touted to manage and survive “Blue Monday”. However, while we can all enjoy the banter, let remember that the concept of a “Blue Monday” is pseudoscience and has no foundation in science.
Have a great day 🙂
1 Arthur A. Stone, Stefan Schneider & James K. Harter (2012) Day-of-week mood patterns in the United States: On the existence of ‘Blue Monday’, ‘Thank God it’s Friday’ and weekend effects, The Journal of Positive Psychology, 7:4, 306-314, DOI: 10.1080/17439760.2012.691980
2 Stone, A. A., Hedges, S. M., Neale, J. M., & Satin, M. S. (1985). Prospective and cross-sectional mood reports offer no evidence of a “blue Monday” phenomenon. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 49(1), 129–134. https://doi.org/10.1037/0022-3518.104.22.168
3 Mirror.co.uk. (2018, January 5). Man who invented “Blue Monday” says he never wanted to make day sound negative. Mirror. https://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/man-who-invented-blue-monday-11802728