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January 21st marks Blue Monday, otherwise known as ‘the most depressing day of the year’. Coined by psychologist Dr Cliff Arnall, Blue Monday is apparently the day we feel the lowest all year. If you’ve been wondering why you feel extra cranky on this day or you just can’t seem to get yourself motivated, Blue Monday may be an explanation for this. But what makes this day the most depressing day and does it have something to do with our health?
We take a look at all the ways your health may be causing you to feel the effects of Blue Monday, and give you tips to help make your Blue Monday and beyond a little brighter.
What makes Blue Monday depressing?
When Dr Cliff Arnall identified the date of Blue Monday he based it on a number of factors which trigger feelings of depression around this time. A factor that everyone can identify with is the post-Christmas blues. January falls directly after the happiest time of the year so this will no doubt evoke feelings of sadness.
We put a lot of energy into the Christmas period so we’re likely to feel as though the energy has been zapped out of us when it comes to January. Our bank balances are a lot lighter, our waistline has grown, the spirit of Christmas has vanished, it’s freezing and we’re all back to work, this is enough to make even the happiest of people feel low!
These were all factors in determining the exact time when people feel at their lowest all year. Here at Doctor-4-U, we’ve identified a few other factors which may support Dr. Arnell’s view that this date is the most depressing time of the year, and it all comes down to your health.
How your health could be giving you the blues
Ill health is one of the leading reasons why people feel low and depressed. Temporary and long term illness can have a significant impact on your social and work life and your ability to get motivated to do the things you enjoy. Your health can take a huge knock during the winter months, so is this the cause of doom and gloom around this time, and is there science behind the notion of Blue Monday?
Apart from the fact that Dr. Arnell derived a scientific formula ([W + (D-d)] x Tq ÷ [M x Na]) to show how the most depressing time of year falls on this specific date, which basically takes the factors such as debt, weather, and the time since Christmas to equate to Blue Monday, there is scientific evidence of why we feel low in mood around this time.
Are you feeling SAD?
If you feel low and sad particularly during the winter months it may be because you actually have SAD. This a condition that is recognised as a mental illness known as seasonal affective disorder. It is a type of depression that occurs seasonally with the majority of sufferers feeling worse during winter.
There’s a difference between feeling slightly ‘under the weather’ and feeling strong symptoms of SAD. If you have SAD you may have lost interest in the usual everyday activities that would normally motivate you, and this lack of motivation is accompanied by feelings of irritation, lethargy, and despair.
Your bed is your best friend during winter and if you have SAD, getting out of bed feels near impossible! You will sleep longer than normal and maybe eat more fatty foods as a way of comforting yourself during this depressing time. We all have a tendency to let ourselves go during winter and maybe find it difficult to get out of those bad habits after Christmas, but with SAD this is usually on a more severe level and can last the whole of winter.
Changes in hormones and your body clock are thought to be the causes of SAD, this is where science comes in. Many health conditions are associated with hormones and you’ll often hear the phrase ‘hormonal’ being thrown about when someone is particularly grumpy or low in mood. This is because there are direct links between hormones and mood. The levels of the melatonin hormone which makes you feel sleepy are increased and the levels of the serotonin hormone which affects mood, appetite, and sleep are decreased.
All of these chemical imbalances contribute to symptoms of SAD, and the main culprit which causes SAD is...the sun (or lack of it). As the sunshine disappears for a few months we’re bound to feel a little doom and gloom, but again there’s science behind this too!
Lack of daylight causes increased melatonin and low serotonin. Our body’s internal clock is also regulated by the sun, and the dark early nights disrupt our body clock leading to symptoms of SAD. Vitamin D, which we get from the sun, is also associated with mood as low levels are thought to increase the risk of depression, and our levels are naturally lower during winter when there’s little sunlight.
So, next time you blame your moodiness on the winter blues consider the fact that you may actually have a disorder such as SAD which is causing this.
Is your health condition causing you to feel blue?
When you have a health condition, no matter what it is, it instantly makes you feel low in mood. Many people who have serious health conditions such as a heart attack or have had surgery tend to feel symptoms of depression for a period after. This is normal, it’s a life-changing event that may or may not stop you from doing the normal things you enjoy.
The way a health condition affects your life determines how your mood will be. If it prevents you from leading a quality life then you’re likely to feel low and depressed. For instance, many men experience erectile dysfunction and although it’s not a serious condition (although it may be a symptom of something more serious), it can have a significant impact on your quality of life particularly if it’s stopping you from having an enjoyable sex life. Solving this issue may be the way to lifting your mood and enjoying life again, and the way to do this is by speaking to a GP to find out the root cause and the best treatment.
Aids such as Sildenafil have improved the sex lives of many men as this medication helps to get and maintain an erection. As a way of helping to lift your mood this Blue Monday, Doctor-4-U are offering sildenafil for just £1, so if you feel that this is something that could help your condition and in turn, help improve your mood then now is the best time to try it!
You can have a confidential consultation with one of our online doctors today and receive your sildenafil by tomorrow!
If you know that your low mood is caused by your health condition you can speak to our GPs to see if there is a suitable treatment for you.
Is flu making you feel blue?
As well as long term conditions, short term illnesses such as flu can really knock you for six! Flu season runs from December to March so the third Monday in January is a prime time for feeling blue as a result of flu.
The flu virus leaves you unable to carry out your normal daily activities and feeling depressed is a symptom of flu for many people. The key is to avoid catching flu by getting vaccinated with the flu vaccine or shortening the duration as much as possible which you can do by resting and taking flu antiviral medication if necessary to reduce severe symptoms.
How to survive Blue Monday or the ‘winter blues’
First of all, if the winter blues are lasting a lot longer than winter it’s definitely worth a visit to the GP as you may be suffering from depression. Blue Monday is associated with more trivial things such as feeling a bit low after the highs of Christmas but generally people are over this once January is out the way. For some, Blue Monday is just another day of feeling low and depressed. The brighter side of Blue Monday is that it may be a prompt to take action against your depression, get help and change your life. We have a few ways to tackle the most depressing day of the year:
1. Get help and support
As mentioned earlier, if you’re feeling low there may be an underlying cause of this. Whether it’s physical or mental health conditions, take action and visit your GP to get the best treatment and start your year off bright and healthy!
2. Stay healthy and fit all year round
Our usual exercise and healthy eating regime tend to drop off during winter, making our immune system vulnerable to nasty illnesses such as flu. Continue your healthy lifestyle throughout winter to protect yourself from these illnesses by exercising and eating foods rich in antioxidants.
3. Treat SAD with light therapy
Increasing your exposure to light has been found to be an effective treatment of SAD. Lightboxes or SAD lights are more intense and higher strength than regular household lights and exposure throughout the day is beneficial for some people with this disorder.
4. Increase your vitamin intake with supplements
As low vitamin D levels can affect your mood, a simple way of combating this is by taking supplements throughout winter when the sun doesn’t provide enough of this vitamin. Speak to your GP or pharmacist about taking vitamin D supplements.
5. Face any other problems in your life head-on!
There are other factors that can make you feel low during this time of year such as debt, stress, or maybe even relationship problems. Whatever it is, use Blue Monday as a trigger to tackle these problems and improve your wellbeing.
Be prepared and armed against Blue Monday by following our tips. It doesn’t have to be the day of depression!
For more information on health conditions and the treatments that are available visit our conditions page.