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Merrimack Valley

March 14, 2014

Overeating, depression mark our winter of our discontent

Constantly tired? Overeating? Lack motivation to get to the gym, to work, get out of bed or even engage in anything that provides pleasure?

If those symptoms describe an unfamiliar sense of melancholy that’s set in lately, you aren’t alone, according to Amesbury psychiatrist Debra Little. It’s another sign of the burden this long, snowy and frigid winter is placing on usually hardy New Englanders.

After a few days of mild weather, yesterday the winter returned with a wrath. Rain turned to snow, and snow begot slippery roads and a flurry of minor car accidents throughout the region — yet another hassle for winter-fatigued residents.

“Absolutely, this winter has taken a toll,” Little said. “It’s not so much anxiety I’m seeing as depression with a melancholia feature. Individuals who have a history of depression have been affected, but I’m also seeing people who have never had a problem with depression before. This long winter has just chipped away at their normal stability. This cold just hasn’t let up since Thanksgiving, when the first spell of frigid temperatures arrived. It’s been every week, oppressive, and it just isn’t letting up.”

Little said she’s prescribed more medication this winter to address the issue than previously, and along with just about everyone except ski venue owners, she’s hoping spring will make an permanent appearance very soon.

As for crime, the cold brings both good news and bad. Salisbury police Chief Thomas Fowler said there’s a general theory when it comes to crime and cold weather the colder it is, the less crime there is on the street.

“There’s a saying that Jack Frost is the best cop there is,” Fowler said.

But there’s another side that’s less savory, he added.

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