Editor's note: This article was first published Jan. 20, 2018. But rest assured, January still sucks.
WASHINGTON (CIRCA) — Are you feeling the blues a little more than usual this month? You’re not alone.
Data from Push Doctor’s Live Healthcare Trends reveals a significant spike in appointments for mental health services between January and February.
Miserable weather and post-holiday financial stress leave many people feeling more sad, tired and irritable than usual.
"Usually about January is when it hits and people are going, 'I’ve got maybe a little bit of depression from the holidays,' and also the days are very much shortened," explained Dr. Ann Crabb, a mental health specialist at the Borgess Medical Center in Kalamazoo, Michigan. "All of this adds together. The cold, the snow, the shorter days. All of this adds up to the depression."
Not getting enough vitamin D is one of the main causes of seasonal affective disorder (SAD), a common form of depression related to shortening day length and a decrease in natural light. On average, people spend 20 percent more time indoors this time of year.
The break-up month
According to Facebook data, more couples break up in January than any other month of the year. And it‘s not just a social media fluke. A 2011 survey by the counseling organization Relate found that 65 percent of relationships end in January.
"Christmas is a real distraction—you’re so busy that you forget all your problems," explained Christine Northam, a counselor with Relate. "By January we have low energy and we’re tired; a lot of couples who were having problems at the end of last year break up."
January and February are also the busiest months of the year for divorce attorneys.
The first Monday in January typically sees a surge in divorce filings, and the national divorce rate continues to increase through February and finally peaks in March.
According to Diana Shepherd, the co-founder and editorial director of Divorce Magazine, divorce lawyers gain the newest clients in the first two months of the year.
"Before Christmas and the New Year, people want to preserve the illusion they are happy," she explained. "There is the whole New Year’s resolution element. People want to change their lives to make them better. And maybe the holidays just didn’t go that well. Finally, one of the couple says enough is enough and decides they are not going to go through it all again next year."