Myths of mid-winter depression

Abstract

An investigation was conducted into the effect of a major Alaskan annual winter festival upon the rates of crisis data. Analysis of rates of suicide, attempted suicide, family disturbance calls, crisis calls, and mental health admissions indicated no significant effect of the festival. Statewide statistics over several years indicate that demands for depression-related services appear to peak in either the summer or the fall. These results do not support the widely held belief that depression is more common during the winter in the North or that mid-winter festivals help to promote psychological well-being. It is concluded that the pervasiveness of such myths may lead to misdiagnosis or mistreatment, and that other folklore should be examined for its validity.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

References

  1. Abbott, A. P., & Kehoe, J. P.. Mental health practices in the Yukon.Canada's Mental Health, 1972,20 (1), 4–10.

    Google Scholar 

  2. Alaska calendar 1981,Alaska Magazine, 1980XLVII (12), Cl-5.

  3. Alaska travel special,Alaska Magazine, 1982 XLVIII (2), T38.

  4. Albin, R.. The holiday blues — a Christmas fable?Psychology Today, 1981,15, (12), 10–11.

    Google Scholar 

  5. Al-Issa, I.The psychopathology of women. Englewood Cliffs, N. J.: Prentice Hall, Inc. 1980.

    Google Scholar 

  6. Allodi, F. A., & Eastwood M. R. Suicide in Canada — trends and preventive aspects.Canada's Mental Health, 1973,21 (5) 15–16.

    Google Scholar 

  7. Alvarez, A.The savage god: A study of suicide. New York: Random House, 1972.

    Google Scholar 

  8. Atcheson, J. D. Problems of mental health in the Canadian arctic.Canada's Mental Health, 1972,20(1), 10–17.

    Google Scholar 

  9. Avery, R. R. Seasonal variation of calls to an urban crisis center in Anchorage, Alaska Unpublished Masters Thesis, University of Alaska, Anchorage, 1980.

    Google Scholar 

  10. Bollander, A.-M. Nordic suicide statistics. In: J. Waldenstrom, T. Larsson & N. Ltungstedt (Eds.)Suicide and attempted suicide. Stockholm: Nordiska Bokhandelns Forlag, 1972.

    Google Scholar 

  11. Conklin, E. E. Fun and furs fly at city celebration.The Anchorage Times, February 8, 1981, p. E-10.

  12. D'Arcy, D., & Schmitz, J.A. Sex differences in the utilization of health services for psychiatric problems in Saskatchewan.Canadian Journal of Psychiatry, 1979,24, (1), 19–27.

    Google Scholar 

  13. Durkheim, E.Suicide: A study in sociology (J. A. Spaulding & G. Simpson trans., G. Simpson ed. Glencoe, IL: The Free Press 1951 (Originally published, 1897.)

    Google Scholar 

  14. Eastwood, M. R., & Peacocke, J. Seasonal patterns of suicide, depression and electroconvulsive therapy. British Journal of Psychiatry, 1976,126, 472–475.

    Google Scholar 

  15. Eastwood, M. R., & Stiasny, S. Psychiatric disorder, hospital admission and season.Archives of General Psychiatry, 1978,35 (6) 769–771.

    Google Scholar 

  16. Eisler, D. A spring of discontent is more than cabin fever.MacLeans. 1979,92 (22), 39.

    Google Scholar 

  17. Greater Anchorage, Inc.46th annual fur rendezvous, Anchrage Fur Rendezvous, 1980.

  18. Hillard, J. R. & Buckman, J. Christmas depression.Journal of the American Medical Association. 1982,248 (23), 3175–3176.

    Google Scholar 

  19. Lazarus, R. Little hassles can be hazardous to health,Psychology Today, 1981,15 (7), 58–62.

    Google Scholar 

  20. MacKinnon, A. A., & Neufeldt, A. H. A survey of mental health “north of 60”,Canada's Mental Health, 1974,22 (1), 3–6.

    Google Scholar 

  21. McCullock, J., & Philip, A.Suicidal behavior, Oxford: Pergamon Press, 1972.

    Google Scholar 

  22. Montooth, S. The spring crisis.Coping, 1980, Spring, pp. 16–17, 29.

  23. Neuberger, R. L. Beating the Alaskan bush. In E. Gruening (Ed.)An Alaskan reader 1867–1967. New York: Meredith Press, 1966.

    Google Scholar 

  24. Parkin, M. Suicide and culture in Fairbanks: A comparision of three cultural groups in a small city of interior Alaska.Psychiatry, 1964,37, 60–67.

    Google Scholar 

  25. Penfold, P. S. Women and depression.Canadian Journal of Psychiatry, 1981,26 (1), 24–31.

    Google Scholar 

  26. Perala, A. Fur Rendezvous: A winter celebration for 46 joyful years.Anchorage Daily News, February 14, 1981, p. K-3.

  27. Phillips, D., & Liu, J. The frequency of suicides around major public holidays: Some surprising findings.Suicide and Life-Threatening Behavior, 1980,10(1), 41–50.

    Google Scholar 

  28. Smith, R. S.The frontier states. New York: Time-Life, 1968.

    Google Scholar 

  29. Stout, J. Save the Fur Rondy.Anchorage Daily News, April 3, 1982, p. G-2.

Download references

Author information

Affiliations

Authors

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Christensen, R., Dowrick, P.W. Myths of mid-winter depression. Community Ment Health J 19, 177–186 (1983). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00759551

Download citation

Keywords

  • Public Health
  • Mental Health
  • Health Psychology
  • Annual Winter
  • Crisis Call