Living in the Pacific Northwest comes with so many advantages. There are beautiful lakes and mountains with endless possibilities of activities. It seems that most people in Washington take full advantage of the sunny and warm summers.

In the winter, most people only see the sunlight if they are going out during lunch. This leads to more people isolating themselves indoor and limiting activities on the weekend, and “the darkness can really set-in.”


Darkness and Depression

It is not unusual for people to experience depressive symptoms. Sometimes we are less motivated to meet up with friends or run errands on our days off. The idea of just going to check the mail can be challenging. How frequently do we lose track of time playing games on our cell phones because the thought of doing anything else is just exhausting? People experience these symptoms all over the world. We in Washington, have a more unique situation because of how little day light we get in fall, winter and early spring. All places that are above or on the same latitude line could experience Low Light Depression.


About Low Light Depression

The effects of living in a low light area include a change in mood, pleasures and thoughts. The study conducted in March of 2018, at the University in Pennsylvania concluded that, these changes occur because your brain does not produce adequate levels of neurotransmitters (norepi­nephrine, dopamine and serotonin). This is different than Seasonal Affect Disorder (SAD) because Low Light Depression only occurs in area’s where there is limited sunlight for long periods of time. SAD can occur any where and is usually triggered at the bringing of winter and lasts until about mid-spring. Both types of depression have similar symptoms. Changes in mood, appetite, sleeping patterns, difficulty maintaining relationships, and issues focusing at work or school. 


How to Brighten your Situation

If you suspect you are suffering from Low Light Depression go see your primary care physician. They can discuss options regarding Vitamin D dosage or other medical medications. Make an appointment with a mental health specialist to learn skills to reduce depression, build support systems and help get your motivation back.

There are many different types of skills that you can learn based on your experiences. Look for created self-care options, such as: a pedicure, a new book, 10,000 Lux light therapy box, eat healthier, or join friends or a meet up for a nice winter hike.


Caress A Redd, LMHC, NCC, CCMHC