Depression is More than Winter Blues

The third Monday in January is deemed ‘Blue Monday’ – a day when the aftermath of holiday overindulgences and gloomy weather collide to make us feel a little down. Deborah Plate, DO explains the difference between the winter blues, and the warning signs of depression.

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CLEVELAND – Wintertime can be depressing. We all feel down once in a while, especially on a dreary, cold day.

But major depression is different – and common.

Almost seven percent of adults in the United States experience major depression each year.

Debbie Plate, D.O., of Cleveland Clinic said many medical providers screen for depression during an office visit.

“Your nurse will ask you two questions, right along with all your other vital signs, discussing mood or asking about your mood, that might take you off guard a little bit, but we’re really interested in making sure we’re looking at all of you, not just your high blood pressure, your cholesterol, or your diabetes,” said Dr. Plate.

According to Dr. Plate occasionally feeling sad or depressed is normal, but when feelings of hopelessness and despair become intense, last for long periods, and prevent someone from leading a normal life, it’s something that needs to be addressed.

This type of depression is a serious illness, and if left untreated, can get worse and last for years.

Depression can run families; it can also be triggered by events like divorce, death, abuse or a major illness.

Dr. Plate said signs of depression include a period of two weeks or longer where someone is feeling ‘down’ for a majority of the time and loses interest in things they typically enjoy.

She adds that feelings of depression are often coupled with other mood and behavior changes.

“You might be sleeping more or you might be sleeping less,” said Dr. Plate. “You might be feeling worthless, or really agitated and concerned that you’re not yourself.”

Dr. Plate said treatment for depression is not one size fits all and depends on the individual.

She said if someone is concerned that they might be depressed, it’s important to talk it through with a health care provider.

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