Cold weather can turn cabin fever into something more severe - WQOW TV: Eau Claire, WI NEWS18 News, Weather, and Sports

A winter for the record books? Chief Meteorologist Nick Grunseth weighs in


Eau Claire (WQOW) - Snowy and cold: it's what Wisconsin is in January, but it's safe to say Old Man Winter piled on this year.

The talk around the water cooler is that this winter is a doozy.

"I think anybody that's about 40 and younger, this is the coldest winter that we've experienced. We've averaged about 8 and a half degrees this winter. If we were to stop winter right now, we'd be the fourth coldest on record," WQOW Chief Meteorologist Nick Grunseth says.

It's not just the cold that is a problem either.

"At this time last year, we had 26-27 inches of snow. Everyone remembers how snowy it was last winter and into the spring. Well, we're already ahead of that. So, if we pick up more snow if February, March, April...hopefully not May, we could be looking at once again, a snowy winter season, maybe one of the top ten, we'll just have to see how it shakes out," Grunseth says.

With the cold weather comes cabin fever, or in severe cases, Seasonal Affective Disorder or SAD.

"It's a type of depression that happens in mostly northern climates.  In other words, the farther you are away from the equator, the more common it is. And, it's basically caused by lack of sunlight or consistent sunlight," Dr. Michael Lace, a Sacred Heart Hospital Psychologist says.

With symptoms like missing work, over eating and poor sleep patterns, it seems everyone might have a case of SAD. So, how do you know when to take it seriously?

"It's not a matter of if you have these symptoms, it's a matter of how severe they are and if it really gets in the way of your functioning," Lace says.

Luckily, there is an end in sight and it's getting closer every day.

"We have a couple days left in January and the month of February left to go. As the sun angle gets higher in the sky, our daylight's getting longer, and we're more apt to see warmer temperatures," Grunseth says.

Doctor Lace says there are many ways to combat the winter blues. Try getting outside and going for a walk or sign up for new activities, like snowshoeing.

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