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Polar syndromes

In polar psychology, which deals with the study on the behavior of people working in small, isolated groups (ICE, Isolated-Confined-Extreme environment), in research stations, places far away from civilization, different types of mental disorders are distinguished. They were divided into syndromes, among which the most important are: winter-over syndrome, T3 syndrome and third-quarter phenomenon.

The winter-over syndrome is characterized by different types of depression, irritation, sleep disorders, difficulties with concentration and memory and absent-mindedness. This type of behavior may result from environmental conditions during the polar night. The winter-over syndrome might be also associated with the T3 syndrome.

T3 (triiodothyronine) is a thyroid hormone that is responsible for the body’s metabolism. The disturbances of its secretion may be the result of low temperatures, long periods of the polar night and midnight sun. The mood and perception decrease and increase of negative emotions might be observed.

The third-quarter phenomenon results from the length of the period that employees are obliged to spend in a research station. This is that moment of the wintering when the mood gets worse, because people in an isolated group realize that only half of the mission has passed and its end seems very distant. That leads to some tensions in the group, people might feel confused or disoriented.

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