How to cope with ‘Blue Monday’

The "Blue Monday" depression peak isn’t real, but seasonal blues are. Here are some ways to cope with "Blue Monday." (Credit: CNN Newsource)
Published: Jan. 16, 2023 at 1:53 PM CST
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(CNN) - Today is “Blue Monday,” a day thought to be the most depressing day of the year. Whether you believe that or not, this time of year, when it is cold and gets dark early, can sometimes be a downer.

“The body just kind of wants to shut down and hibernate,” psychologist at Cleveland Clinic Kia-Rai Prewitt said.

In the winter months, millions of Americans can suffer varying degrees of seasonal affective disorder.

Prewitt says the exact cause is unclear.

One theory is that it may be due to the reduced activity of serotonin in the brain, which helps regulate mood. Some believe sunlight helps maintain those levels, which is why winter blues can happen when it gets dark earlier.

“Sometimes, you have to kind of come up with your own way to feel energized,” Prewitt said.

Prewitt suggests engaging in self-care, eating healthy and getting physical activity are not just good for your body, but your mind, too.

Staying connected to friends and family and having a support system is key.

You can also change your environment so that it is more soothing.

“Have things around you that appeal to one or more of your five senses,“ Prewitt said.

If you have tried to break out of the blues and still feel down, other treatment options may be right for you.

“You might be feeling a sense of worthlessness or hopelessness. Maybe you’re losing interest in activities. If that’s going on for at least two weeks, it may actually be time to reach out and talk to a therapist,” she said.

Some possible treatments include light therapy, antidepressant medications, psychotherapy and taking vitamin D.

If you think you suffer from seasonal affective disorder, talk to your doctor about which treatment or combination of treatments may be right for you.