Utah the ‘Triple Whammy’ state for seasonal depression

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SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (ABC4 News) – It’s no secret Utah’s winter months are long and gloomy…so it’s no surprise that Utahns have common encounters with seasonal depression. 

Elizabeth Joy, Senior Medical Director for Wellness and Nutrition at Intermountain Healthcare says Utah winter sometimes causes us to experience things that can cause seasonal affective disorder or seasonal depression. 

“It’s dark; you’re not outside as much–you may not be as social and as connected to other people. We kind of tend to isolate in our house and that all contribute to feelings of depression,” Joy said. 

She said Utah’s air quality doesn’t aid those suffering from seasonal depression. 

“When we have temperature inversions and we have a low atmospheric ceiling and all the pollution gets trapped in our lower atmosphere. that is independently associated with higher risk of depressive symptoms.” 

Joy said there is research showing that Utah’s high altitude doesn’t help those suffering from seasonal depression either.

“We kind of have the triple whammy…we have cold winter months, where people tend to be inside and away from friends. We have air pollution, which is an independent risk factor for depression. And in some parts of Utah we have much higher altitude,” Joy said. 

Joy advised those who know they have a hard time mentally getting through the winter to elevate their mood as much as possible, but to know it’s okay if other measures need to be taken. 

“Try and make an effort to hang out with people and do things outdoors–get a little sunlight on the brain, that seems to help,” she said. “And for some people, if their mood is affected to the point where it interferes with their ability to function or their quality of life, they should see their physician and consider other interventions–perhaps medication or seeing a therapist.”   

If you or someone you know needs help, there’s the 24/7 National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. For more information, visit utahsuicideprevention.org.

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