Readers warned to watch for signs – Is this just the winter blues?

Just the Winter Blues?

During this season of short days and cold dark nights, the rates of depression, stress, and thoughts of suicide may increase. A number of factors, including unrealistic expectations, financial pressures, and too many commitments, can exacerbate such feelings.

Some people may feel mildly depressed during the winter months due to seasonal affective disorder (SAD), sometimes referred to as the winter blues. UV light therapy can be an effective treatment for those suffering from this disorder. Additionally, the stress and sadness associated with SAD may be alleviated by setting realistic goals, revising expectations, accepting support of friends, sharing tasks with family members, finding inexpensive ways to enjoy oneself, and helping others.

It is important to seek assistance for yourself or another if depression persists and there is a feeling of hopelessness or a suggestion that suicide may be a viable option.  Indications that a person may be considering taking his or her own life include:

*Feeling hopeless or trapped- like there is no way out

*Heavy use of drugs or alcohol

*Obsession with death, such as talking about harmful things such as pills, guns or knives,                        writing suicide notes, or drawing death themed pictures.

*Spending too much time alone; withdrawing from family and friends

*Giving away possessions

*Exhibiting behaviors that swing from aggressive to docile

*Sleep disturbances, sleeping too much or not enough

*Seeing no reason for living or having no purpose in life

If you suspect someone you know is contemplating suicide, try to find out whether the person:

*Has a weapon or medications that could do harm

*Has already determined a time or place to end his or her life

*Believes that suicide is the only way to end the mental anguish.


Stay with the individual until the crisis passes and try to convince him/her to seek professional help. Arguing or challenging the person only makes it worse. It is better to talk openly about the situation and make it clear you do not want him/her to die. Other options include calling 911, or a toll free suicide hotline (National 1-800-273-8255), (Local 1-800-749-7720), Teen to Teen line (1-877-968-8454).

Interventions do help and lives can be saved, but we must first acknowledge our mental health needs and be willing to seek assistance.

For more information, find Rockford HOPE on the web at or email  Rockford HOPE meets the last Tuesday of each month at 7:00 p.m. at the Rockford Freshman Center, Room 111. Additionally, a free monthly support group for parents of teens meets on the first Thursday of each month from 7 to 8 pm at the Rockford Freshman Center, Room 111.

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