Medical questions & health advice by board certified doctors
"Is cabin fever a real condition?"
Every winter I get really antsy and have a lot of anxiety because I have to stay inside so much. I guess people call this cabin fever but is it a real psychological problem? Is there anything I can take so I don't get anxiety and depression this winter?
There is definitely an association between the winter months and symptoms such as anxiety and depression. Historically, 'cabin fever' has referred to the symptoms of claustrophobia, stress, and anxiety that develop when someone has to stay inside for long periods of time without access to the outdoors. Although this is not a technical psychiatric diagnosis, it is a well recognized phenomenon. Usually most sufferers of cabin fever experience relief if they can start spending more times outdoors, such as engaging in winter sports activities. Another, more serious condition is something called seasonal affective disorder. This is a condition in which a person experiences symptoms of mood disruption, including depressive symptoms and, sometimes, anxiety as well, due to decreased exposure to sunlight during the dark winter months. This condition can result in pretty significant disturbance in social functioning, and it often does require treatment either with prescribed light therapy or with certain classes of anti depressant medications. If you are concerned about your mental health, then the best first step would be to make an appointment with your psychiatrist for a comprehensive evaluation. They will help you decide whether or not you need specific treatment!
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