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S.N.O.W stands for Sadness, Nothing, Overwhelming, Winter disorder and people in the Northeast are suffering from it in masses this winter. Because of an extended period of snowstorms, approximately every two days, sometimes more often, more and more people have been diagnosed with the above disorder. It appears that this new syndrome called S.N.O.W. now appears in the new DSM (Diagnostic Symptoms Manuals used in mental health.) The disorder has the following symptoms: claustrophobia, anxiety, obsessive-compulsive disorder and depression. To illustrate the symptoms the following scenarios should make it more understandable:
1) Claustrophobia: many people who are unable to go outside and are not able to be independent, to drive on their own through wintry conditions, feeling closed in, unable to breathe, unable to go anywhere. Every time there is snow, freezing rain or ice the feeling of claustrophobia intensifies. People suffering from claustrophobia generally also suffer from the following:
2) Anxiety: The feeling of being anxious, disturbed, uneasy. Your heart beat may seem faster, stronger, you may have chest pains and the feeling of being nervous all the time. This is natural for this condition.
3). OCD: Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder: patients generally run to the window or door, or they stand next to the aforementioned window or door flattening their faces against the glass for many minutes on end. They go back and forth to see if the snow has stopped, the ice pellets have turned to rain and how the snowflakes fall and in what particular pattern. Patients also try to gauge how much snow, rain, ice, etc. Patients say that they sit riveted to the Weather Channel or local forecasts or both.
4) Depression: the feeling of sadness that does not go away, feeling “blue,”sad, lonely, isolated, unable to feel joy. The feeling that you will never be happy again, that you are unable to enjoy anything in life including but not limited to: loved ones, music, television and anything else you formerly enjoyed doing. You may not want to get out of bed (and really, why should you?) because you feel there is no way out. You may be correct in this assumption.
Once the diagnosis has been made, the following recommendations generally fall in the following perimeters: 1) prescriptions include: a week, 2 weeks 4 weeks or three months (depending on the severity of your patients’ symptoms and bank account) to a warm climate for as long as you can. Some destinations, for example, are: in Arizona, New Mexico, Florida or Los Angeles. A sun “lamp” to give yourself the (fake) feeling of getting outdoor light can also be used though there are no firm statistics that support this. Tanning beds are also thought to be an option, but one which comes with a medical advisory of a possible link to skin cancer, more specifically, melanoma.
Of course your mental health professional may write you a prescription for anti-depressants but really, by the time they actually start to work (6-8 weeks) Spring will be hopping on its feathery feet to come and stay for a little while. For the short-term, think of yellow daffodils sprouting and listen to the song “Breathe” sung by Anna Nalick, continously. Symptoms of S.N.O.W. should dissipate within two to three months. It is possible that in the winter of 2012 the symptoms may resurface.