How Cold is Too Cold

Posted 1/18/22

By Brian G. Schommer n ight(now7(m"ny(of(you("re(trying(to(fight(off(the(winter( doldrums. This time of the year tends to lend itself well to inactivity and stagnant lifestyle choices. …

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How Cold is Too Cold


By Brian G. Schommer

n ight(now7(m"ny(of(you("re(trying(to(fight(off(the(winter( doldrums. This time of the year tends to lend itself well to inactivity and stagnant lifestyle choices. Everyone has that internal thermostat that will force us to lock the doors and batten down the hatches. At what point do you say, “too cold?” Driving across Lake of the Woods to our icehouse and the thermometer read NEGATIVE 29, “How cold is too cold?” crossed my mind, especially with the wind whipping "nd(the(windchill('ottoming(out("t(D?('elow:((ouffice(it(to(s"y7( "t(le"st(for(myself7(su'9zero(temper"tures("re(just(fine7("t(le"st( when there is potential to land a few nice walleyes and make memories with friends.

The reality of life is that this time of year can be extremely difficult(for(people(who(suffer(from(oe"son"l(T ffective(Yis order (SAD). This is not one of those times where I make up an acronym to try to get a few smiles. This type of depression, related to the change in the seasons, is more than just the “winter blues.” There are two types of SAD: winter-onset SAD and summer-onset SAD. Like all types of depression, the signs and symptoms can vary. Low energy, feeling sluggish and sleep issues are just a few possible signs that someone is spiraling downward. No longer having interest in activities that you once enjoyed, hopelessness and feeling sad most of the time are also signals that someone is experiencing Seasonal Affective Disorder. Recognizing the symptoms is the(first(step(to(m"king(sure(th"t(you(or(someone(th"t(you(c"re( about can create stability in mood and motivation.

We all have days that we just are not at the top of our game and feeling down is normal. When it becomes a daily or weekly occurrence is the time to become concerned, especially when participating in activities that once were a regular part of life ceases. An example might be a person who regularly hit the slopes or snowmobile trails no matter the temperature and was very upbeat about life in general has become more recluse and solitary with little to no desire to go skiing or trail riding. This type of obvious change might certainly constitute a consultation with a physician. Changes in appetite, sleep patterns and mood swings would indicate a more immediate need for a doctor’s intervention.

T(specific(c"use(for(oT Y(rem"ins(unknown('ut(there("re( a few factors that the experts believe are part of the equation. There is less sunlight in the fall and winter, which may attribute to winter-onset SAD as the decrease of that big old Vitamin D producer in the sky can disrupt our biological clocks enough to lead to depression. Reduced sunlight can also result in a drop in Serotonin, which is a brain chemical that affects mood. Changes in the seasons can also throw the body’s level of Melatonin off, which can do a number on sleep patterns. The cause or causes, while important, pale in comp"rison(to(identific"tion("nd(tre"tment(of(oT Y: The most common treatments for SAD are light therapy (increased exposure to light, also known as phototherapy), psychotherapy and various medications, including Serotonin and Melatonin. It is not recommended that one should self-diagnose or self-medicate. If you or someone you care about are exhibiting signs and symptoms of SAD, getting together with a medical professional is always the best step.

Since inception, this column has always ended with the tagline “Get Out and Enjoy the Great Outdoors.” If you are experiencing any of the symptoms of SAD on a regular basis, following(through(on(this("dvice(m"y('e(difficult7(if(not(im possible. The resources are there for you and know that there are people who need you in their lives, so please, reach out and get the help you need to put the train back on the rails. Here is to a happier and healthier future for all.