On the sixth day, tired of looking at each other and eating canned food, my family tried our first escape attempt, which would involve persuading my father's midsize sedan into our sloping, frozen driveway. We wanted tacos. Buying them – two days later, when things have finally eased – costs $ 400 for the tire we shredded in the first unfortunate trial, plus the price of tacos.

Aside from the bad ideas, we were lucky: we had food and shelter, and our jobs were not threatened because we could not leave the house, which everyone did not have to do in emergency situations. But as temperatures in the Midwest dropped to 20 degrees below zero this week, millions of people became potential victims of the same phenomenon that inspired three otherwise intelligent people (my mother, the smartest in the group). , have moved away) to hunt several hundred. Dollars in the restroom in Carne Asada's obviously convicted pursuit: cabin fever.

Like many psychological phenomena, cabin fever exists in both a cultural and a clinical sense. In a regular conversation, the term is a kind of catch-all for the boredom and agitation caused by staying too long inside. For doctors, cabin fever is not in itself a diagnosable disorder, but the presence of a number of overlapping psychological symptoms that can have real effects on behavior and well-being. of somebody. Usually, these symptoms last longer than the average period of blizzard or cold to cause real health problems. However, if you've ever been caught off guard by your spouse or felt depressed after a few days indoors, you know how fast they can emerge.

Cabin fever as a specific phenomenon has not been the subject of much research, but its elements have been well studied by psychologists. A landmark study conducted in 1984 by Minnesota researchers (where some knew the cold) revealed that although "cabin fever" has a different meaning, it is most often characterized by a combination of boredom, anxiety, irritability and agitation. Even for people living in areas where extreme cold is common, it is essentially stressful to get out of your daily routine, lock yourself in your home and dramatically restrict your choices and activities.

The way the body reacts to this stress seems to be the key to the rise of cabin fever. Ever since I saw people pulling random sporting goods in Atlanta, I've also seen people hitting the streets of New York during snowstorms and making poorly designed makeshift travel gear including cardboard, trash lids and everything else. While some people may find it amusing, many people with cabin fever are determined to get out of it. It's true even when they do not really need it – we do not need those tacos – which can be a form of fighting instinct or leakage, clinically called cortisol stress reaction. You can not exactly hit Mother Nature, so try to avoid the conditions that keep you from climbing walls.