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Every year, right around this time, thousands of people in NYC struggle with depression that did not have depression only a few months ago. Sometimes, this depression is caused by recent life experiences. But other times, it’s caused by a condition known as “seasonal affective disorder,” often referred to in shorthand as “Seasonal Depression.”

Seasonal depression is caused by two distinct factors that often work together:

  • Low Light Exposure – Light is one of the ways our brain “wakes up” and positively processes the world. It needs light in order to create good feeling neurotransmitters and hormones.
  • Stresses and Traumas – The holiday season is a time when there are family stresses, personal traumas, and more that can make it more difficult to cope.

Seasonal depression can affect anyone, anywhere, during the colder winter months. But it is especially a challenge here in New York City, and it’s important for those in the region to understand why so that they can identify the issues as they arise and make the necessary steps to address them.

How Could NYC Be at Greater Risk of Seasonal Depression?

Seasonal affective disorder is primarily caused by a lack of access to sunlight. Though this is not the only cause – nor the only one that affects people in New York City, which we’ll get to in a moment – it is one that specifically affects people here more so than some other areas of the country.

  • Skyscrapers – Winter means that the days grow shorter, which means there is less light after 4pm. Most of us are working during the only sunny hours. But what can make that worse is that whatever light there is can sometimes be blocked by the large buildings and skyscrapers in New York. It means that we aren’t even seeing as much light as other people are during the day.
  • Cold – NYC gets extremely cold. Cold keeps people indoors, which in turn means less light exposure. Cold is not unique to this region, but there are certainly some areas of the country – especially down south and in California – that experience more warmth than we do which makes it a bit easier to be outside.
  • Lack of Green Areas – Even if someone wanted to be outside in the colder weather, it’s harder here, because there aren’t many green areas to explore. Outside of Central Park, most of the activities in New York City take place indoors, which means that many are already receiving less light simply because of the activities available.

Winter is also rainy season, which can sometimes mean more clouds and even less lighting. Winter, throughout the entire country, means that there is less light and thus an increased risk of seasonal affective disorder, but here in NYC, that risk is even greater.

Other Uniquely New York City Factors for Seasonal Depression

Seasonal depression’s link to light is the primary reason we are at greater risk for issues here in New York City. But it is not the only reason. There are other factors that are more common in New York than other places, including:

  • Financial Stress – NYC is expensive. Many people, even those with good incomes, are doing their best to get by. Gift buying and hosting cost money, increasing the likelihood of financial stress.
  • Shopping – As you look for gifts, you may also notice that – in our heavily populated city – shopping is harder. There are more people to push through. Introverts that may struggle in groups can find this season very difficult.
  • Limited Stress Relief Time – We all know how busy and active NYC is, more so than other cities in the United States. Because the holidays can be a stressful time, many of us need to find time to unwind. But here in New York, it can be hard to find that time, which means you have fewer opportunities to refresh.

These are only some of the reasons that seasonal affective disorder can be more difficult in NYC.

Treatment for Seasonal Depression in NYC from Flourish Psychology

Flourish Psychology is committed to helping those with seasonal depression – and those that are struggling to manage their day to day life – find relief and value in themselves. We are a boutique private practice that offers several distinctive treatments for season depression through therapy and other mental health approaches. If you would like to learn more, or you feel like you may be suffering from seasonal affective disorder, contact Flourish Psychology, today.

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