Blue Monday – let’s talk about depression and mental health

British psychologist Cliff Arnall found that the third Monday in January is the most depressing day of the year. He determined the date using a mathematical formula. He took into account meteorological, psychological and economic factors. According to statistics, it is today, January 16, that is the easiest day to fall into depression and sadness. The day is short, we have little sunlight. We’re reviewing New Year’s resolutions, and we’re hit with financial difficulties after the holiday season.

Does Arnall’s theory hold true? Not necessarily. Scientists question its scientific value. Nevertheless, Blue Monday can become an opportunity to talk about mental health. Let’s look at the mood and needs – ours and those close to us.

Let’s take care of ourselves.

Sadness or depression?

Each of us has worse moments. We are depressed and overwhelmed, experiencing difficulties and losses. This is natural and – fortunately – transient.

Unfortunately, it happens that the state of depressed mood does not pass. On the contrary, it is deepening and strongly affecting our daily life. Pleasures stop pleasing us, we fall into pessimism and irritability. Problems with sleep (its deficiency or excess), appetite disorders and intellectual performance begin. We lose our self-esteem and isolate ourselves from people and the world. We are plunged into a nagging sadness and a sense of hopelessness. We can’t find each other. We want to disappear.

Do not underestimate such symptoms – either in yourself or your loved ones. Similar symptoms can mean depression. So it is a matter of health and its disorders. According to the World Health Organizationdepression is the fourth most serious disease in the world. It is one of the leading causes of suicide.

But how do you tell the difference between depression and sadness? When to seek help and reach out for treatment? The basic rule is that the symptoms of depression last longer than two weeks. They cause anxiety and negatively affect daily social, family and work life.

Symptoms of depression

A person suffering from depression may have all or only some of the characteristic symptoms. The most common symptoms include:

  • constant sadness (possible more frequent crying);
  • a depressed mood that persists for most of the day and has been recurring for at least two weeks;
  • loss of interest, disappearance or weakening of feelings of pleasure;
  • low energy levels, fatigue for no apparent reason;
  • ineffective rest and sleep that does not regenerate strength;
  • underrated self-esteem, loss of self-confidence;
  • a conviction of one’s uselessness, an unjustified sense of guilt;
  • pessimism and a sense of hopelessness;
  • thoughts of death as a phenomenon, thoughts of suicide, suicidal intentions or attempts;
  • reduced concentration, impaired ability to remember;
  • deterioration of sleep (it is too short or too long, does not bring rest);
  • appetite disorders (possible weight loss);
  • pain complaints;
  • loss of sexual desire and pleasure;
  • slowing or stimulation of activity.

The patient may not be aware that he or she is depressed. He may even deny the problem and reject attempts to help. Vigilance and support of loved ones is very important. Depression is an illness that requires specialized treatment.

Remain vigilant also when the mood changes cyclically, going from extreme to extreme. Depression has different faces. One variation of it is that a period of characteristic symptoms is followed by a period of excessive agitation. There is an unexpected surge of strength, a sense of power, an overflow of enthusiasm… and then a nagging sadness returns. Such disorders are also worth consulting a doctor.

Depression in children and adolescents

It is not only adults who suffer from depression. One in three students experience mental problems, including depression and anxiety. The effects of pandemics and lockdowns, weakened relationships with peers, loneliness, lack of exercise, anxiety caused by war – all these affect the current mental condition of children and adolescents.

Childhood depression manifests itself as a long-term lowering of mood, but there is more to it than that. Aggression, destructive and self-destructive tendencies (including self-harm), rebellion, irritability are also observed. Because of these symptoms, it is sometimes stopped at finding a child with hyperactivity or behavioral disorders. Meanwhile, the problem may run deeper.

Where to look for help

If you notice symptoms of depression in yourself or a loved one, seek help from a specialist. Depression is treated by a psychiatrist (you can see him without a referral). Pharmacological assistance is often accompanied by psychotherapy.

There are also support phones – this is often the fastest way to get specific help. Do not hesitate, call. Depression will not pass on its own.


800 70 2222 – a 24-hour toll-free support line for people in mental health crisis.

116 123 – a toll-free crisis hotline for adults in emotional crisis. Open 7 days a week at. 14:00-22:00.

116 111 or 121 212 – toll-free helplines for children and adolescents. Open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

800 108 108 – a toll-free support phone. Open from Monday to Sunday (except holidays) at. 14:00-20:00.

22 635 09 54 – helpline for the elderly. Open on Monday, Wednesday, Thursday at. 17:00-20:00.

How to take care of your mental health

Depression has been called the disease of the 21st century. The hardships of a fast-paced reality, the pressures of our surroundings, our daily problems – all this makes it increasingly easy to neglect our mental health. This is being talked about more and more in the public space, but it is still not enough.

That’s why it’s so important to take care of yourself every day – in every way. Let’s remember our own basic needs and a healthy lifestyle.

  1. Sleep. Sleep long enough (about 8 hours a night, although this is an individual issue). Let’s go to sleep and get up at regular times.
  2. Relationships. Let’s not tune out others. Let’s be close with the people we love and like. Share emotions and experiences – honestly, kindly, understandingly, without pretense.
  3. Stress reduction. Let’s try to get some distance. Let’s base it on facts, not opinions. Let’s use the help. Let’s set reasonable limits.
  4. Pleasures. Let’s get back to activities that make us happy. Let’s start with the little things and appreciate them. Let’s make our loved ones happy. Let’s pursue our own and our collective dreams in small steps.
  5. My self. Let’s be authentic and honest with ourselves. Let’s examine our own feelings and needs. Let’s think about what is good for us. Let’s look for our own ways to feel contentment.
  6. Movement. Let’s be physically active at least 3 times a week for approx. 45 minutes (WHO standard). With the help of movement, let’s increase the level of happiness hormones and decrease the level of stress hormones. Let’s listen to our own bodies, let’s get rid of tensions.

How to show support to a person suffering from depression

This is a very important, difficult and delicate task. See how to proceed to provide real help.

  1. Act gently, prudently, in small steps. Depression is an illness in which it is easy to feel overwhelmed and stranded despite the good intentions of those close to you.
  2. Don’t bail the sick person out of everything. A person with depression should be able to act and make decisions.
  3. Do not force the patient to accept help by force. Ask what kind of help is really needed.
  4. Motivate the patient to be physically active – gradually and gently. You can start with short outings and slowly increase the intensity.
  5. Patiently emphasize that depression is a treatable disease. With proper therapy, symptoms will decrease and disappear.
  6. Don’t use platitudes like “get a grip” or “others have it worse.” Such comments will not make a depressed person feel better. The patient will feel misunderstood.
  7. Support the patient’s trust in the doctor. Disorders require the help of a professional. It is very important to follow his recommendations.
  8. Any mention of suicide is an emergency. Keep your doctor and loved ones informed, even if the patient has asked for discretion.

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