A reader asks:
I live near Syracuse. Needless to say, cloud cover is intense. I have been suffering depression more acutely since moving here, especially since my second pregnancy. Although I am receiving good treatment with a psychiatrist and work hard to do everything I can to moderate my depression, it is hard. Would moving to a sunnier climate help me? This is something my husband and I are considering.
Winter depression is statistically less prevalent in the southern U.S. than in the middle and northern states. However, it is not completely absent there. If your depression were to respond to light supplementation — indeed, regardless of the season — you might be better off down south. However, some patients have tried this without success (and decided to move back north and use artificial light therapy instead). Trying out light therapy is the first sensible step, since it would quickly tell you whether moving your family might be worth the effort and expense. If the treatment worked, the next step should be an extended vacation in the sunnier climate, to determine whether the change in location is helpful. Only as a third step, then, would we recommend making the move!