Dr Kate Lovett
, Dean of The Royal College of
Psychiatrists has written about 'Blue Monday' and contrasts the
difference between feeling down due to the time of year with
serious mental illness like depression. See our information about
"My sources tell me that today is “Blue Monday”. I must be
getting old but life does seem to have become more complicated
since I was a youngster. The fad for celebrating a different
“issue” every day of the year seems to have crept up on us and the
peculiar habit of attributing colours to certain days – Blue
Monday, Black Friday and so on is just that – peculiar.
What is Blue Monday?
So, what is this so-called Blue Monday all about? Well basically
it was a
marketing strategy started by Sky Travel in 2005 to get us
all to buy summer holidays to beat the so-called “January Blues”- A
bit of so-called “retail therapy” to cheer ourselves up.
Sounds like a fairly easy fix, but in fact the premise on which
Blue Monday is based is a made up, non-scientific formula which
takes into account days since Christmas, weather, motivation levels
and debt. It seems strange and actually quite cruel to target
people who are miserable because they are worried about money and
sell them something else they likely can’t afford. As a marketing
ploy though you can’t knock it.
The concept of Blue Monday has become ingrained in our Western
materialistic culture for the last 13 years and the media and
multiple other businesses annually hang on its coat tails. A quick
flick through a Google search will take you to all sorts of
articles and adverts for suggestions about what you can do (which
usually involves parting with your hard-earned money) to overcome
something that doesn’t exist. We have been well and truly
Some see “Blue Monday`” as a harmless bit of fun to cheer up
“Dull January”, whilst others have been more critical about its
potential to trivialise low mood and perpetuate the stigma that
surrounds mental illness.
The mental health charity Mind has said of Blue Monday: “Here at
Mind, we think it’s dangerously misleading. Those of us who live
with depression know that those feelings aren’t dictated by the
date. Implying that they are perpetuates the myth that depression
is just ‘feeling a bit down’, something that doesn’t need to be
taken seriously.” I am with them on this one.
The Samaritans have taken positive action and are
aiming to transform ‘Blue Monday’ into ‘Brew Monday’. They will
be offering tea and a chat at various events across the UK (What a
great idea although those who work closely with me will know that I
would never advocate reserving tea just for Mondays. Let’s continue
keeping the kettle on standby 24/7 and be prepared to support and
reach out to those around us).
The people I see in my practice couldn’t be farther away from
the parody of low mood that ‘Blue Monday’ perpetuates. They are
people who experience the intense suffering that severe mental
Ask anyone who has experienced true clinical depression what it
is like and they will tell you about the seemingly never ending low
energy, elusive sleep, inability to enjoy anything, the sense of
hopelessness and often accompanying thoughts that life is no longer
They will describe the difficulties they have concentrating on
what have previously been straightforward tasks. They will explain
to you that the sadness pervades their every day for weeks on end.
They will tell you about the devastating impact it has on them and
those around them.
Shopping isn't an answer
These are not problems “fixed” by holidays in the sun or weekend
breaks or any other kind of “retail therapy”. Depression is a
serious but treatable mental illness which takes time to recover
Treatment is designed to look carefully at the patient’s brain,
body and background. That is what we do as psychiatrists day in,
day out. There is nothing in the world I enjoy more than seeing
someone who has been really unwell, often with a deep,
life-threatening depression make a full recovery and get back to
living their life, and reconnecting with their community. On this
so-called “Blue Monday” I am excited to get back to the job I
This blog first appeared on the
Huffington Post website.
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