Blue Monday Isn't Real But Winter Blues Are, Mental Health Professionals Say

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DES MOINES, Iowa -- This Monday is known as Blue Monday, which is believed to be the most depressing day of the year. But local mental health professionals say there’s no scientific backing, and this Monday is just an ordinary day.

Since 2005, the third Monday in January has been coined Blue Monday because of many factors like it being gloomy outside, it’s after the holidays, and New Year's resolutions may be faltering. But mental health professionals say those factors affect everyone differently and it’s nearly impossible to predict a day to be more depressing than the next.

There are blog posts and articles published giving tips on how to “survive” Blue Monday, and companies like KFC giving away free gravy to "get through” the day. Krystina Engle, with UnityPoint Health’s Eyerly Ball Community Mental Health Services, said trivializing these disorders is one thing, but for those actually suffering from depression and other mental health disorders, this day can be very tough.

“Unfortunately there are a lot of people who do experience depression and anxiety, so they start to get more anxiety or worry to the build up of this specific day where we should be even more depressed than normal. It can actually be very difficult for people because we are putting pressure on these individuals who might be experiencing depression, anxiety, may already have Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), and so it can just be very difficult for them,” said Engle.

What is real is the winter blues, more clinically known as SAD. It’s a kind of depression that's formed usually in the winter months when there is less sunlight.

“There are people who do experience that Seasonal Affective Disorder so they may have that depression and anxiety during these kinds of months and it is hard with the weather just in general what we are experiencing out there,” Engle said.

Engle said some signs and symptoms of SAD are depression, anxiety, hopelessness, lack or loss of energy, change in sleep patterns or appetite, and a loss or gain of weight. Engle said if these symptoms persist for more than a few days or weeks, to seek help from a medical professional.

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