Yes, "Sunday Depression" is a real thing.

Three reasons why you might be experiencing this.

(Originally posted on kayatoastforthesoul.com)


"I hate Sundays. Why do I get so sad".


If the above sounds familiar, then the following might be relatable for you as well.


Sunday morning, you wake up and are jet-set ready to enjoy the last day of your weekend. All seems to be going well in the morning and even up till lunchtime.


However, sometime around then, a sense of dread seems to sink in.


Your mind starts to go into panic mode because you've felt this way before. You feel overwhelmed and even a bit physically ill. You find yourself thinking about why the weekend is ending so quickly, and start to get distraught thinking about the work week ahead.


Whatever you do, you can't seem to bring yourself to enjoy your Sunday. There's a sense of hopelessness or depression. It's no use even when you tell yourself:


"Sunday's are part of the weekend, I should be feeling happier!"


Yet, it doesn't get any better. Your Sunday eventually spirals out of control and in the following week, this cycle repeats itself.



Sunday Depression isn't a diagnosable condition, but it's a very real phenomenon.


Research conducted in the states found that about 78% of people experienced Sunday Blues to some level, and of those that did, 62% get it “really bad”. Some symptoms include increased anxiety, depression and even panic.


Sunday Depression isn't found anywhere in the Diagnostic Statistical Manual Version Five (DSM-5), a guide used by clinicians to diagnose mental illnesses. However, if you were to see a Psychologist, they might refer to what you are going through as "Situational Depression".


Situational Depression, or Adjustment Disorder, refers to a type of depression triggered by a significant life event.


Given it is situation-dependent, there can be any number of reasons that might be causing your Sunday Depression.


Here are three common reasons.



1) It might be due to recent changes in your life, making you dread the work week.


Are you aware of when you started experiencing this Sunday Depression? Perhaps something in your life has changed recently. Since it comes on a Sunday, there's a high likelihood it might be due to work-related changes including:

  • You've started a new job recently.

  • Your boss at work has recently changed.

  • You're stretched too thin.

  • You've got a new stressful project.

  • Other areas of your work changing, like a close colleague leaving or a promotion that leaves you with more responsibility.


All the above are factors that can be anxiety-inducing, leading you to feel a deep sense of dread as your weekend comes to a close and you become aware that you're back in your office environment tomorrow.


There's no one simple answer to solving all the above, so do get some help and speak to someone who is able to guide you through this anxiety.


In the meantime, read up a bit on some healthy coping strategies for anxiety, like learning to relax and unwind, as well as grounding techniques. Check out some of the self-care tips on this blog too.


If it's getting worse, consider too if it's time for a career change.



2) You're getting tired of your routine.


Routine can be comforting, but it can also get really mind-numbingly boring.


You might start to view your life negatively, seeing it as an endless cycle, a repeat of going to work Monday to Fridays, taking a break on Weekends, and back to work again.


When you view life in such a boring routine manner, it makes it tiresome. This might explain why when Sunday comes along, you're feeling a sense of hopelessness that the cycle is about to repeat again.


Nobody wants to feel like they are stuck in groundhog day.



One key tip would be to try and increase the number of pleasurable activities in your life. For example, having new and novel experiences helps to stimulate your brain reward centers. Pick up a new hobby or activity, be adventurous, anything that gets you feeling excited.


Another tip might be to start allotting some time each day to taking a daily vacation. Designate a time slot each day to do something you truly enjoy, while learning to savour this time as much as you can.


Building these activities into your life can help you break out of that mundane routine you've come to dread.



3) There feels like a deep lack of meaning in your life.


This is the most ominous of the three reasons. Jobs, whether we like or not, takes up such a big portion of our time. When we've been at a job for a while and can't connect any meaning to it, suppressed emotions and life dissatisfaction might manifest itself as Sunday Depression.


An interesting study looking at Sunday Depression found that people with higher levels of education had lower life satisfaction on the weekends than they did during the week. This was same of both men and women.


Strange finding, no?


Well consider this - do you feel as bad when you rock up to work on Monday? Compared to what you were experienced the day before on Sunday?


Somehow, when Monday morning comes, the anxiety and depression is over, and you're back to your usual routine at work. Your mind is occupied with things to do, and you have the goal of working until it's the weekend.


Yet the weekend comes and quiet sets in. Sunday is a strange day, since it marks both the end of the week and the start of a new one. It becomes a day when you're reflecting intelligently on how you spend your time.


What might be your realisation?


Well, here's what Viktor Frankl, esteemed psychiatrist and author of Man's search for meaning has to say.


Sunday Neurosis (Depression) - that kind of depression which afflicts people who become aware of the lack of content in their lives when the rush of the busy week is over and the void within themselves becomes manifest.
Viktor Frankl, Man's Search for Meaning.

According to Viktor Frankl's hypothesis, Sunday Depression arises when you become aware that there is something missing from your life.


This void or emptiness is something you have to address. Don't let it fester.


Start by reflecting on your work. Maybe there is some misalignment between your work and what you find really meaningful for you. In that case, what is it that you hope to really be spending your time on?


Here are some tools that might help you in your journey to reconnect with Meaning. As a starter, here's a workable definition of what Meaning is and another on how to Find Meaning at Work.


Get deeply in touch with your values - these are the things you care about most deeply. You'll find a sense of meaning when you live true to your values. Try out this 15-minute reflection activity too.


Just to let you know, I've also been where you are too. Sunday Depression, left untreated, leads to Clinical Depression. So don't struggle at it alone. Email me if you could simply use someone to talk to and listen.



Take care and thanks for reading Kaya Toast for the Soul. I hope you find your meaning in life. Your friend, Hernping.