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You might have heard people calling today ‘Blue Monday’.

At first glance, you might think that it sounds about right. Lots of people find January difficult. The weather isn’t great, and most people are back to school, college, or work after at least a few days off.

People also talk about ‘Blue Monday’ being caused by bills arriving after the holiday season or failed new year’s resolutions.

But is Blue Monday real?

Blue Monday? There’s a line drawing of a sad face and the background has a marbled blue effect.

Where Blue Monday came from

People have been calling the third Monday in January ‘Blue Monday’ since 2005, when a travel company said they’d used an equation to figure out the most ‘depressing’ day of the year.

They claimed that they used things like debt, motivation, time since Christmas, and the weather in their equation. But the equation isn’t as impressive as it seems.

Firstly, some of the values (like ‘motivation’) are hard to measure. The ‘equation’ also doesn’t consider that everyone’s different – not everyone in the UK celebrates Christmas, and people’s motivation levels will be different too.

Importantly, these different things don’t really fit into a reliable equation. It’s not how maths works!

With the right scientific studies, it could be possible to work out whether there are days when, on average, more people than usual feel sad or low.

But we don’t have this sort of evidence for the third Monday in January.

In fact, most scientists and psychologists agree that there isn’t really any evidence for Blue Monday at all. Lots of companies use it to sell things (and some charities use the idea to inspire helpful campaigns), but happily, Blue Monday doesn’t actually exist.

Why it matters

Some people think it doesn’t matter if Blue Monday isn’t real. They might even say it’s good if it encourages people to talk about their feelings and mental health.

Others say that talking lots about Blue Monday encourages people to focus on difficult things and overlook the positives.

It’s also important to remember that while everyone has mental health, depression is a specific mental health condition

We often use the word ‘depressing’ to talk about things that make people feel miserable – and everyone experiences times when they feel low or negative. But depression is a mental health condition that makes people feel down, low, or sad all the time.

Lots of conversations about Blue Monday mix up feeling a bit low, sad, or grumpy and having depression. This can make it harder for people to understand what depression is. It can also make it more difficult for people who have depression to ask for help.

What you can do

Firstly, if you’ve been feeling down, low, or sad all the time, find out more about depression and what sort of help is available. You can also head to ‘Get help now’ if you need urgent support.

If you’re finding January a bit difficult, you’re definitely not alone.

We’ve put together some winter wellbeing tips and information about the five ways to wellbeing, which might give you some ideas to help you boost your mood.