Are you feeling cabin fever, winter blues or worse?

“Number seven on the ‘Top Ten Signs of Cabin Fever’ is the realization that “family togetherness is overrated.” – Anonymous

winterbluesIt’s definitely that time of year when many of us (myself included) are really tired of putting on layers of clothes, chipping ice off the car and trying to convince the dog that they really do need to go out for a walk.

Yesterday, temperatures reached 58 degrees in Milwaukee. Winter jackets were coming off and windows were being opened. People were even having conversations about seed catalogs and gardens.

Today, that light rain has turned to ice and snow. Temperatures have plummeted below freezing — and are expected to go below zero by the weekend.

With such extreme changes in our climate, it’s not surprising that we might be a little more irritable, bored or restless than usual.

Jan Kwiatkowski, LMFT, is a psychotherapist and mental health consultant for Aurora Family Service in Milwaukee, WI.

Jan Kwiatkowski, LMFT, is a psychotherapist and mental health consultant for Aurora Family Service in Milwaukee, WI.

Maybe our kids, significant other, boss or dog is getting on what feels like our last nerve. Sugar cravings are harder to manage and our sleep might be off or not restful.  Escaping to anyplace that is “not here” sounds like a really good idea.

I can almost see your heads nodding in agreement as you read this.

If this is happening to you and/or the people around you, you might just be experiencing cabin fever, a feeling that you and the people around you have been cooped up, together, for too long.

But, what if you’re mistaking cabin fever for something more serious?

Ask yourself this question: are any of these symptoms getting in the way of your everyday life?

  • Feeling sad or depressed
  • Lethargy
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Craving carbohydrates or sugar
  • Difficulty walking in the morning
  • Sleep disturbance
  • Social withdrawal
  • Reduced productivity
  • Irritability

AUR_dv1430005[1]If you are bothered by any or all of these symptoms for more than 2 weeks, you may be experiencing seasonal affective disorder.  Seasonal affective disorder can be managed in many ways, including exercise, eating healthily, limiting alcohol, limiting news or upsetting media, more sunlight and possibly medication.

The winter months can be enjoyable.  After all, January temperatures reaching the 40s and 50s are a sign of hope that “this, too, shall pass.”  If you are not sure whether what you are experiencing is more than cabin fever or the winter blues, give us a call at Aurora Family Service and we can help you figure it out.

Aurora Family Service helps families overcome challenges, changes and crisis to live well again.

We achieve stability and strength for families through counseling, parenting, elder care, financial, career, health and community services.  For more information, visit our website, follow us on Facebook, or call 1-414-342-4560.

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