Cabin fever – Is winter making you restless and irritable?
Have you been suffering from a case of cabin fever? Join the club.
Although "cabin fever" is not a diagnostic term, psychological experts in New Jersey claim the harsh winter can easily take a mental and physical toll on residents, stuck indoors for a bit too long.
Dr. Marla Deibler, a psychologist with offices in Cherry Hill and Princeton, said human beings are built to naturally be around sunlight, for nutritional and emotional reasons.
"Unfortunately, when it gets cold outside, we tend to spend more time inside, and that depletes our vitamin D levels, and it also affects our mood," she said.
Victims of cabin fever are said to suffer from symptoms including irritability, boredom, depression and dissatisfaction. Weight loss or gain can be associated with the phenomenon as well.
"They're not a happy group of campers," said Dr. Rosalind Dorlen, a psychologist in Summit. "It's just the factor of being cooped up."
Dorlen said cabin fever can affect adults and kids alike.
Besides just waiting for spring, there are steps that cabin fever sufferers could take to help themselves.
Dr. Mike Abrams of Psychology for New Jersey in Clifton said some fresh air can go a long way.
"Get out if at all possible, even it's a few steps outdoors," he said. "Also, if you're able to get out and do physical activity, that's a major offset."
Relief can come indoors as well, though, according to Dr. Randolph Shipon, a psychologist practicing in Mountain Lakes.
"If somebody has a low mood and stares at the same room or the same four walls for an extended period of time, the odds of that person breaking out of that low mood is fairly low," he said. "What a person has to do is change one's venue. Even changing rooms can mean a change in mood."
Given the forecast for New Jersey, residents could be spending a few more days indoors. Temperatures on Thursday and Friday may not top 20 degrees.