Winter blues: Half of Americans fear battle with Seasonal Affective Disorder as cold weather arrives

NEW YORK — As if 2020 hasn’t already been difficult enough, many people are preparing for a winter of discontent. A survey finds half of Americans say they’re afraid they’ll suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder this winter.

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a type of depression which occurs during the change in seasons. Researchers say this is something four in five experienced in the winter of 2019, which ended with the arrival of COVID-19 and nationwide lockdown measures.

The study of 2,000 Americans examined how respondents feel about the cooling weather and how they expect to handle it amidst the pandemic. While 47 percent expect their time spent at home will increase, another 51 percent want to embrace the outdoors as much as they can.

The OnePoll survey also finds that over a third of respondents (37%) are planning on taking more walks or hikes to get some fresh air. Meanwhile, 21 percent are looking forward to building a snowman come winter.

The poll, commissioned by Heat Holders, adds one in five are fantasizing about a dramatic snowball fight and 17 percent are excited to make snow angels.

Fearing the winter blues

When it comes to the dreadful parts of winter, the bitter cold temperatures (25%), cold and flu season (22%), and the lack of daylight (20%) ranked as America’s top complaints. Icy conditions and winter storms (both 17%) rounded out the top five most hated parts of the season.

“We wanted to understand how Americans are going to deal with both COVID-19 and winter. It looks like people are looking to be cozy at home and also embrace the outdoors more than ever before for fresh air and social interaction,” a spokesperson for Heat Holders says in a statement.

“The data clearly points to people looking for effective options to keep extremities warm, this is essential for comfort, both indoors and outdoors.”

Staying warm is always a priority, but some body parts just don’t hold in the heat. Hands came in at the top of the list of America’s “coldest body parts” (52%), with feet not far behind (50%). Over a third hate to feel the cold on their face (37%) and a quarter (26%) complained about how cold their ears get.

More than half the poll (54%) say the best item to have on hand during these chilly months is a pair of warm socks. Nearly the same amount (52%) opted for a cozy blanket. Sweaters, sweatpants, and gloves all made the list, but 23 percent would settle for a warm hug.

“Body warmth easily escapes through extremities, feet, hands, head. Retaining this body heat is essential to staying warm and comfortable in the cold. This was the very reason why we created the warmest thermal sock,” the Heat Holders spokesperson adds.

Top 20 Most Hated Aspects of Winter:

  1. The cold 25%
  2. Cold/flu season 22%
  3. Lack of daylight 20%
  4. Ice 17%
  5. Winter storms 17%
  6. Heat bills 16%
  7. Wind chill 15%
  8. Snow 13%
  9. Dry skin 13%
  10. Defrosting the car 12%
  11. Wearing so many clothing layers 11%
  12. Runny noses 11%
  13. Unable to spend time outside 9%
  14. Chapped lips 9%
  15. Stuck inside 8%
  16. Dryness in the air 8%
  17. Barren trees 6%
  18. Lack of social life 6%
  19. Nothing to do 6%
  20. Itchy sweaters 5%

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About the Author

Chris Melore

Chris Melore has been a writer, researcher, editor, and producer in the New York-area since 2006. He won a local Emmy award for his work in sports television in 2011.

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