Blue Monday may be fake, but depression is real

You’ve probably heard that today is Blue Monday, the most depressing day of the year. Thanks to a pseudo-mathematical formula involving dropped resolutions, bad weather, holiday debt and short days, marketers and news agencies can claim that today is (on average) worse than any other day of the year.

Even if it were true, that’s a remarkably unhelpful thing to know. At best, it tells us that–on average–tomorrow will be better, which doesn’t say much for our individual circumstances. At worst, it gives anyone dealing with depression a great big reminder of the reasons they might be struggling.

So why is Blue Monday still a thing? CBC offers a compelling theory:

One might presume that money has something to do with the theory’s continuing popularity online, based on the number of promotions, campaigns and sponsored content pieces created for Blue Monday 2016.

Some companies stick with tweeting hip GIFs and pictures of baby animals to cheer up their followers on Blue Monday without pushing any particular deals.

This, while annoying to some, is relatively chill in terms of #BrandsOnTwitter.

Others promote special offers geared towards helping consumers “Beat the Blue Monday blahs,” as Ottawa’s Metro newspaper describes the Blue Monday deal this year at Cineplex movie theatres.

Any notable day can be a useful marketing tool, so we’re probably stuck with Blue Monday for a long time yet.

Now, we don’t need Blue Monday to be real for today to be a difficult day. Maybe the constant reminders are bringing you down, or maybe you’re just having a rough time right now. That’s not somehow less legitimate because a travel marketer decided to give today a silly name, so there’s no reason to feel like you’re buying in to the hype if you’re depressed.

Instead, try to treat yourself with compassion. If you struggle more during the darker months of the year, now might be a good time to talk to a professional about Seasonal Affective Disorder. Today might also be a good day to practice a little extra self care. Blue Monday backlash can cause normally empathetic people to act more flippant than usual about mental health issues, so there’s nothing wrong with taking a step back from social media or water-cooler chatter if need be.

If you don’t deal with depression yourself, try not to get caught up in the marketing. Depression isn’t the same thing as the Monday blues, and this might be a good time to learn how they differ. If someone you care about is struggling, know that there are ways to support them beyond the Blue Monday-mandated cute cat gifs.

When you’re dealing with depression, any day can be the hardest day of the year. But Blue Monday does get one thing right: there will come a day when tomorrow will be better. It might not be January 18th, but it’s out there on your journey to better mental health.

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