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Middletown, NY
A 38-year-old male asked:

How can i tell the difference between the normal winter blues and actual depression?

3 doctor answers11 doctors weighed in
Dr. Ralph Morgan Lewis
A Verified Doctoranswered
Family Medicine 39 years experience
Winter blues: Depression is not seasonal; it persists year round, unless treated. Even then it may take some time to feel "normal". Winter blues is also called seasonal affective disorder (sad); usually occurs in fall & winter, when we have less exposure to sunlight. Sad responds some to antidepressants but even more to full-spectrum light—sun or special light therapy lamps. Even grow lights may help.
Created for people with ongoing healthcare needs but benefits everyone.
Dr. Patricia Foster
Psychiatry 45 years experience
Agree with grow lights. They're effective and less costly than light therapy products which can be expensive.
Jun 10, 2015
Dr. Philip Kennedy
Family Medicine 45 years experience
Ability to function: Full depression interrupts your normal activities and makes it hard to function. If you are just mildly sad, it is probably the winter blues. Many times exposure to light therapy, which is a box that emits natural light, can relieve depression or the winter blues. If you are having frequent crying spells, i would consider that to be more like depression. Good luck!
Created for people with ongoing healthcare needs but benefits everyone.
Dr. Stephen Perret
Child Psychiatry 16 years experience
Think carefully: It may be hard to see at first but by asking the question, you may already have an answer. Depression is categorized by several symptoms including changes in sleep, appetite, mood, energy, and sometimes suicidal thoughts. I would say if the "winter blues" are affecting you greatly or of course if you're having suicidal thoughts, i'd seek professional help -- and soon.
Created for people with ongoing healthcare needs but benefits everyone.

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Last updated Oct 24, 2017
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