Debunking Blue Monday
Since approximately 2005, the third Monday in January has been reported to be the day of the year that people feel most depressed. This correlates with another belief that the most deaths by suicide take place on this day. Neither is true.
It’s easy to understand why the belief in Blue Monday persists; after the holiday season people may be more in-debt than usual, they may be missing the family and friends they were able to reconnect with over the holidays, or they may have a difficult time adjusting to the return to work. Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is another explanation for why people may feel down in the month of January.
SAD is a combination of physical and emotional disturbances that include depression. This is a somewhat legitimate claim, as SAD occurs with a seasonal pattern, usually in the fall and winter. But even those affected by SAD experience their symptoms around 40% of the year, not just in January, and not just on the third Monday of that month (Kuralansik & Ibay, 2013). Despite the prevalence of SAD around this time of year, and the other possible risk factors mentioned, the rate of deaths by suicide does not increase in January. In fact, the rate is consistent throughout the whole year with a slight rise in the Spring time (Yip et al., 2000). So where did the myth of Blue Monday come from?
One article suggests that Blue Monday originated as a public relations stunt performed by a travel agency looking to increase trip sales in the month of January and, therefore, has no foundation in science whatsoever. Why does Blue Monday always fall on the third Monday of January? This comes from the claim that people’s mood will be most negatively influenced on this day based on a decidedly pseudoscientific equation that supposedly takes into account numerous variables. “Blue Monday” may be a myth but it is important to remember that there are those who feel depressed and have suicidal ideation at any time of the year. Of those with thoughts of death b y suicide, the majority don’t actually want to die, they just want the pain of living to stop.
What can older adults do to stay mentally healthy?
Maintain physical and mental health: This could be as simple as eating right and exercising a little bit every day.
Have fun and do what you love to do: Make time for enjoyable activities or hobbies.
Prioritize relationships: Call, text, or visit friends and family, be sure to stay in touch! Take part in a class or another kind of group activity, at a club or senior’s centre.
Include activities with purpose and meaning into daily life: Volunteer to support friends or peers in your community. One in five volunteers at Haven Toronto are over the age of 60.
Ask for help when it is needed: When struggling to cope with life, tell a loved one or call the local crisis line, which you can find at suicideprevention.ca/need-help/
If someone you know is exhibiting warning signs, have an open, non-judgmental conversation with them.
You can start the conversation by mentioning your concerns, “I haven’t seen you around the swimming pool lately, how are you doing?” or, “I notice you have been a bit stressed these past couple weeks. Are you okay?” Listen to them, be there for them.
You don’t have to offer solutions. If the person responds with statements of hopelessness or being a burden, ask them about those feelings. Then, ask them directly, “Are you thinking about killing yourself?”
It is not common for older adults to directly access mental health services. If an older person you know might be experiencing mental health concerns, encourage them and offer to go with them to find mental health supports.
Important Contact Numbers -
Suicide Prevention and Support: 833 456 4566 (Toll Free)
Toronto and GTA: (416) 408-4357
Survivor Support Program: (416) 595-1716
Source: Centre For Suicide Prevention