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Psychiatrists say 'Blue Monday' is a myth, but it does bring more attention to seasonal affective disorder

A term used by travel companies to book more trips is bringing more attention to seasonal affective disorder
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Posted at 9:08 PM, Jan 16, 2024

COLUMBUS, O.H. — You may or may not have heard the term "Blue Monday" before. It was coined by a United Kingdom travel company back in 2005. Here's the alleged meaning behind it:

"Blue Monday" happens on the third Monday of every January. It's said to be the most depressing day of the year, because that's when bad feelings start stacking up that stem from poor weather, post-holiday blues, and the failure of New Year's resolutions. But science doesn't back this.

Psychiatrists have said that it's really just a way for travel companies to encourage more trips in January— essentially marketing that you can escape the sadness.

However, the myth around "Blue Monday" does bring attention to something more important: seasonal affective disorder, also known as SAD.

"Often when it starts to get colder or the days start to get shorter— fall, winter, they start to notice their mood gets worse, and for some people they notice every year around this time of year I’m feeling worse," said Dr. Douglas Misquitta, a psychiatrist with The Ohio State Wexner Medical Center.

"We don't want people to just sit in it, and that I think that could sometimes be the danger of a 'Blue Monday' type thing. If someone thinks it's just that day, it's just that time of the year. So this is just gonna pass. And then we worry maybe they're not taking the steps to help themselves or to get better."

When it comes to SAD, Dr. Misquitta suggests taking time to identify what helps your symptoms. That could be things like exercise, staying connected with friends and family, or getting out in the community.

But sometimes feeling depressed can make motivation tough. In those situations, Dr. Misquitta encourages people to ask for extra help. It can be something you bring up at any type of doctor's appointment.

"It could be their family doctor or primary care, could be an OB-GYN. That could be a place to start," said Dr. Misquitta.

Searching for a mental health provider through your insurance can also be a good way to find care that's covered for you.