Cabin fever is an idiomatic term for a claustrophobic reaction that takes place when a person or group is isolated and/or shut in a small space, with nothing to do, for an extended period (as in a simple country vacation cottage during a long rain or snow). Symptoms include restlessness, irritability, paranoia, irrational frustration with everyday objects, forgetfulness, laughter, excessive sleeping, distrust of anyone they are with, and an urge to go outside even in the rain, snow, dark or hail.
The phrase is also used humorously to indicate simple boredom from being home alone. The term was first recorded in 1918. Other references have the term in use at least to 1906.
Yup, this is the time of year it usually sets in. The best therapy: get out there! If that’s not possible make sure you have a pile of good reading!
Proposed therapy for cabin fever
One therapy for cabin fever may be as simple as getting out and interacting with nature. Research has proven that even brief interactions with nature can promote improved cognitive functioning and overall well-being.
In popular culture
- Steven King's novel The Shining (and its film adaptation) involves cabin fever. The plot follows a family of three trapped in an isolated resort in the dead of winter. Cabin fever stories may also involve a person or group of people on a deserted island or on a long space voyage.
- In Muppet Treasure Island, after spending weeks at sea with no breeze to move the ship, most of the crew begin to develop cabin fever; then spontaneously burst into the musical number "Cabin Fever" where they sing of how the madness is affecting themselves.
- An episode of Lost in season 4 is titled "Cabin Fever", having to do with a literal cabin (Jacob's).
- In a Diary of a Wimpy Kid book, Greg Heffley and his family are stuck inside his house during a snowstorm and Greg starts to develop cabin fever.
- In the futuristic sci-fi film Pandorum, crew members of a space ship suffer from a fictional psychological condition called pandorum which has similarities to cabin fever.
- "In a Far Country" is a wonderful short story by Jack London that chronicles how two men under the influence of cabin fever in the Far North winter devolve into murderous savages.
(source for comic strip: http://www.atpm.com/17.02/out-at-five.shtml)