Blue Monday 2018: The most depressing day of the year, or clever marketing?

Is today really the most depressing day of the year? And who even came up with the idea?

Put simply, although Blue Monday is acknowledged every year, there is no valid proof that it exists beyond our imaginations.

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It was, in fact, a concept invented in 2005 by holiday company Sky Travel as part of its marketing campaign.

The idea was to get potential customers thinking about booking summer holidays to beat off those January blues.

The original 2005 press release claimed to have scientific research, including equations, to back up its claims.

(Weather + time since Christmas) x debt level + (motivational levels x time since failure of last NY resolution) = ?

The sum included variables - such as ‘weather’, ‘time since Christmas’, ‘debt level’, ‘motivational levels’ and ‘time since failure to keep new year's resolution’ - which scientists say aren't part of the metrical system.

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Unsurprisingly, this equation has since been debunked and labelled ‘pseudoscience’ - in other words, it’s a lot of rubbish.

“There are so many reasons to believe it’s nonsense,” says Dean Burnett, a doctor of neuroscience and Cardiff University lecturer.

“Firstly, the equation wasn’t the result of some psychological study by a reputable lab, but conducted by a travel company, who then fished around for a psychologist to put his name to it, to make it seem credible.”

On top of all this, Dr Burnett says the equation itself is “scientifically ridiculous”.

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“It combines things that have no quantifiable way of being combined,” he says.

“Debt level, time since Christmas, weather, motivation - the equation combines all these things, but that’s not possible.

“It’s like a maths problem that goes ‘43 - 12 + the colour red x mouldy cheese - the theme songs from Friends =...’ It’s impossible to solve this because all the individual components are so different and have no compatibility with each other.”

Clearly, then, there is no strict science behind Blue Monday - though perhaps you want to book the day off work, just in case.