Existe-t-il réellement un « jour le plus déprimant de l’année » ?

Is there really a “most depressing day of the year”?

Jan 15, 2024

This Monday, January 15, 2024 is considered the most depressing day of the year. Also known as "Blue Monday", this day has gained increasing popularity over the years and has gradually become a concept in its own right. However, it remains crucial to ask whether Blue Monday is truly scientifically based or whether it is simply a widely accepted concept.

Origin of Blue Monday

The notion of Blue Monday was popularized by British psychologist Cliff Arnall in 2005. He established a mathematical formula that took into account various factors such as time, debts accumulated during the holidays, level of motivation, and more. other elements to determine the most depressing day of the year.

According to his formula, the third Monday in January was when these factors converged to create a particularly emotionally difficult day.

An unreliable concept

The post-holiday period can be really trying for many people. Several elements such as the end of the holidays, cold weather conditions, reduced sunshine duration and debts accumulated during the holiday season can indeed exert a significant influence on the psychological state of some people. Additionally, lack of natural light during the winter months can contribute to seasonal depression.

However, Cliff Arnall's formula cannot be considered reliable due to its lack of scientific rigor. No statistics or studies have been carried out to support this conclusion, which makes its consensual acceptance or validation by a serious body impossible. Many critics have also highlighted the arbitrary and unscientific nature of this formula.

Additionally, reducing depression to a simple mathematical equation is a flawed approach. Mental health is complex, influenced by multiple factors, and claiming that any one day is the most depressing of the year is simplistic and ignores this complexity.

Commercial motivations

The motivations behind the creation of Blue Monday appear to be independent of any public health concerns. In reality, this was work funded by the travel agency Sky Travel.

The psychologist even publicly admitted that the mathematical formula to declare the third Monday in January as the most depressing day of the year was a promotional strategy in the service of this agency. The implicit aim was to persuade more Britons to escape to sunny destinations to escape the supposed sadness of this particular day. This revelation reinforces the fact that Blue Monday cannot be considered a serious scientific principle.

It also highlights the need for vigilance against popular ideas which, although they may seem grounded in reality, can sometimes be influenced by commercial interests. Thus, Blue Monday, far from being an objective assessment of mental health, appears more like a media construction than a reliable tool.

An opportunity to seize?

Although Blue Monday does not have a solid scientific basis, it can still be used as an excuse to raise awareness about mental health and encourage prevention. Despite its contested origin as a concept, Blue Monday does indeed offer an opportunity to remind people of the importance of taking care of themselves. Media coverage of this day can serve as a catalyst to openly discuss issues related to depression and mental health in general, thus generating greater awareness.

By emphasizing the need to seek help for depressive symptoms, Blue Monday can also function as a wake-up call to remind individuals that there are resources and supports available.

However, some voices are expressing concerns about the potential effects of promoting Blue Monday. Some fear that this emphasis could help reinforce the erroneous idea that depression is inevitable at this time of year, thus discouraging people from seeking help. By validating the fact that feeling sad is normal during Blue Monday, there is a risk of trivializing serious pathologies like depression. The reality is that mental disorders do not have a temporal peak, and should in no way be seen as an expected reaction on a specific date. This highlights the importance of not downplaying the severity of depression and promoting a deeper understanding of these conditions throughout the year.

In short, Blue Monday is emerging as a contested concept, lacking solid scientific foundations and driven more by commercial interests than public health concerns. Despite this, it offers a valuable opportunity to highlight mental health issues and encourage prevention. While debate persists over the legitimacy of this day, the bottom line lies in the need to raise mental health awareness throughout the year to provide ongoing support rather than a one-off response on a specific date.

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