The defenders of Bullshit Blue Monday tend to suggest that even if the formula is nonsense, it promotes awareness of mental health at a time of the year when people are feeling particularly low. In light of this, today’s Bad Science column discusses the research on mood and time of year and finds there’s no reliable link between season and depression.
The piece looks at studies of suicides, depression, prescriptions of antidepressants, mood changes and hospital admissions – and none show a reliable connection.
And worst of all, we know that lots of things really are associated with depression, like social isolation, stressful life events, neighbourhood social disorder, poverty, child abuse, and the rest. Get those in the news, I dare you. Suicide is the third biggest cause of life years lost. Anything real you could do to study the causes, and possible preventive measures, or effective interventions, would be cracking. Making stupid stuff up about the most depressing day of the year, on the other hand, doesn‚Äôt help anyone, because bullshit presented as fact is simply disempowering.
By the way, during previous Bullshit Blue Monday posts, I alluded to a researcher who was threatened with legal action by Cliff Arnall for criticising the formula.
As it happens, it was psychologist Petra Boyton and you can now read her account of being subject to below-the-belt nastiness.
To lighten the tone a little, I must point out my highlight of the whole media debacle: an article in The Scotsman who gave the date of Blue Monday as the
23rd 21st of January – a Wednesday.