Snow Depression | Seasonal Affective Disorder

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Snow Depression

“And February was so long that it lasted into March

And found us walking a path alone together
You stopped and pointed and you said, ‘That’s a crocus’
And I said, ‘What’s a crocus?’ And you said, ‘It’s a flower’
I tried to remember, but I said, ‘What’s a flower?’ ”
— Dar Williams

The winter of 2015 was one of the coldest on record in the United States. Temperatures plunged for days at a time, with the wind-chill factor reaching far below zero Fahrenheit and many feet of snow covering some parts of the country.

Gloomy Days, Gloomy You?

Nasty weather can be nasty for our mental health, as well. It’s been termed “snow depression,” which mimics some of the same symptoms as its clinical counterpart seasonal affective disorder (SAD). For many, it involves mood instability, fatigue, withdrawal from typical activities and from socialization, increased frustration and a sense of despondence.

The difference between snow depression and SAD is that the latter can be treated with anti-depressants, exposure to light sources and counseling, while the former is more likely to respond to a spring thaw and warmer temperatures, although those treatments for SAD can help in the meantime.

Those affected by snow depression are at the mercy of work schedules, child care needs as children might be off from school or daycare with short notice, power outages, as well as difficulty finding transportation and lengthier commutes — all on top of the proverbial cabin fever.

One Boston-based writer called it “the flakes.” Her humorous take on the condition might help you resist the desire to burrow into the ground for another few months, groundhog-style.

Use Your Inner Child to Chase the Winter Blues

Some of these suggestions to shake snow depression might remind you of your childhood:

  • Work on projects in the house
  • Play board games
  • Have pot luck gatherings
  • Enjoy movie nights
  • Exercise
  • Have nutritious food and non-alcoholic beverages around
  • Read
  • Listen to or make music
  • Plant flowers in a pot to transfer outside once the weather warms
  • Enjoy outdoor activities such as sledding, skiing, ice skating, building a snowman, or having a snowball fight
  • Bake or cook
  • Meditate
  • Nap
  • Dance
  • Write
  • Create something artistic, even just coloring in a coloring book
  • Make blanket forts
  • Plan a vacation, or just daydream about activities you want to do in the spring or summer
  • Make a Vision Board of pictures and words cut out from magazines to set intention for the changes you want in your life

No matter how you try to cheer yourself up or how well it works, remember Hal Borland’s assurance that, “No winter lasts forever; no spring skips its turn.

By Edie Weinstein, LSW

Follow Edie on Twitter at @EdieWeinstein1

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