How to tell the difference between winter blues and clinical depression

Local News

If you were feeling down in the dumps more than usual yesterday, you may have been experiencing a case of “Blue Monday.”

The third Monday in January, also known as “Blue Monday,” is considered the most depressing day of the year.

“Blue Monday” and winter in general can be especially difficult for some people struggling with mental illness and depression. Terry Stambaugh, a mental health professional for the Robert Young Center, joined Jim Niedelman in the Local 4 News studio on Monday with more details.

“In the winter, it gets darker earlier, and there is a connection between sunlight and how you’re feeling mentally,” said Stambaugh. “The weather is also cold, which can force people to stay indoors for long periods of time.”

Stambaugh noted how there is a difference between just feeling “down” in the winter and actual clinical depression.

“A lot of people can feel ‘off’ in the winter, like I mentioned before, for many of the same reasons. You might just feel groggy or more grumpy, but these wouldn’t necessarily be warning signs of depression,” said Stambaugh. “Clinical depression often presents with more drastic changes — like feelings of hopelessness, excessive sleeping, inability to get out of bed or even restless sleep. There are many other ways it presents as well.”

“Blue Monday” is a good reminder for people to make their mental health a priority, although winter isn’t the only season to do so.

“Any time is a good time to start taking mental health as serious as you do bodily health. Your brain and mentality affect everything you do throughout the day, so it’s important to treat it with care,” said Stambaugh. “I think today is also a good reminder not just to think about yourself but also to check in on your friends and loved ones and see how they are doing with the harsher weather recently.”

Stambaugh says Robert Young Center is one local resource you can turn to for help when you’re dealing with more than just winter blues.

“At Robert Young Center, we provide all levels of service to those who are struggling with their behavioral health. First and foremost, if you are in a crisis, please call 309-779-2999. It’s a 24/7 crisis hotline where you can speak with someone, but if you’re not in a crisis, just reach out,” said Stambaugh. “We are going to be there to help you improve your health with a multidisciplinary team of experienced and dedicated psychiatrists, advanced practice nurses, psychologists, counselors and social workers.”

More information about the Robert Young Center can be found here.

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