Blue Monday

Trent Ernst, Editor

This past Monday was Blue Monday.

No, that’s not a Elvis Presley B-side, it’s the most depressing day of the year.

Or at least, that’s what we’re told. In fact, the idea came about when a travel agency tossed some pseudo-scientific calculations at the board and then said, in effect, “why not get away and have some fun?”

That company, Sky Travel, has since gone out of business, but the idea lives on in popular culture.

The idea is that by the third week of January, the weather has settled into suck, the bills from Christmas have arrived, you’ve completely given up on your New Year’s resolution, and a general feeling to get away.

Still, it’s hard to shake the feeling that winter has come and isn’t going away anytime soon.

Sure, it’s been into the pluses the last few days, but that’s even worse, because this is the week of the Tumbler Ridge Winter Carnival. The one week you want snow and (reasonably, like, -10) cold weather.

Here at the Tumbler Ridge News office, the wind (which earlier this week blocked all the interesting backroads) caused the power to go out, which caused the computer to shut down, which caused Microsoft Word to eat the cover story, which of course hadn’t been saved because, autosave. But autosave didn’t autosave and so long cover story. Which has been causing a certain degree of distress.

Which doesn’t really help with that whole proclamation of embracing winter that I made last week.

While the whole “Blue Monday” thing may just be a marketing scam, the fact is, a lot of people don’t like winter, and tend to get SAD. That’s Seasonal Affective Disorder.

SAD symptoms start in the fall and continue into the winter months, sapping your strength and making you feel moody.

SAD tends to start out as a case of the winter blahs, but, by the time February roles around, can turn into full-blown depression.

According to the Mayo Clinic, symptoms of SAD can include:

  • Feeling depressed most of the day, nearly every day
  • Feeling hopeless or worthless
  • Having low energy
  • Losing interest in activities you once enjoyed
  • Having problems with sleeping
  • Experiencing changes in your appetite or weight
  • Feeling sluggish or agitated
  • Having difficulty concentrating
  • Having frequent thoughts of death or suicide
  • Irritability
  • Tiredness or low energy
  • Problems getting along with other people
  • Hypersensitivity to rejection
  • Heavy, “leaden” feeling in the arms or legs
  • Oversleeping
  • Appetite changes, especially a craving for foods high in carbohydrates
  • Weight gain

What causes it? They’re not sure the complete cause but scientists think it may have to do with a couple of factors, including the changes to your circadian rhythm, which is just a fancy word for your internal time keeping. The reduced level of sunlight in fall and winter may disrupt your body’s internal clock and lead to feelings of depression. Another possible culprit is serotonin levels. Serotonin is a brain chemical that affects mood, might play a role in SAD. Reduced sunlight can cause a drop in serotonin that may trigger depression.

Another possible chemical change is your melatonin levels. The change in season can disrupt the balance of the body’s level of melatonin, which plays a role in sleep patterns and mood.

Women are more likely to suffer from SAD, but men tend to suffer more.

If you find yourself getting morose as the season drags on, get outside. Throw open the windows to let whatever light can in, get some exercise, and just take care of yourself. To paraphrase GRRM: Spring is coming….