For many of us in the northern hemisphere, with winter, comes cold weather and less daylight. These changes in environment can affect our psychological functioning and may contribute to an exacerbation of anxiety, while others may noticeÂ depressed mood, irritability, weight gain, hypersomnia, and an increase in interpersonal conflicts.Women are twice as likely to experience these climate-related psychological changes. Symptoms tend to peak during the month of February.
Whether your mood changes are within the “normal” range, or whether you have the “winter blues” or seasonal affective disorder (SAD), which is thought to affect up to 5% of the population, it is not uncommon to notice changes in how you feel consistent with the changing of the seasons. In fact, the first documented reference to these changes was in 1918 when the term “cabin fever” was coined as characterized by irritability, paranoia, memory problems, and excessive sleep. Now, this term is commonly used to refer to the boredom which results from being indoors for an extended period of time.