I don’t like Mondays

Photo by stock.xchng user Simeon. Click for sourceThe 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.

Goldacre concludes:

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’t 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.

Link to Bad Science on season, mood and Bullshit Blue Monday.
Link to Petra Boyton on formulas, science reporting and legal threats.

One Comment

  1. Posted January 25, 2009 at 4:22 am | Permalink

    Wouldn’t social isolation coincide with winter? I’m surprised that studies wouldn’t show an increase in SAD indicators for that reason. Similarly I’d be surprised if child abuse wasn’t higher at this time of year because children have fewer places to go outside the home & because holidays tend to be a time of increased child abuse (drinking, stress, kids more available because they aren’t in school).


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