From the lush countryside to the Northern Lights, there are a lot of gorgeous places and features to see in Alaska. However, the cold weather that remains for much of the years contributes to the state experiencing high depression and suicide rates. Here is an overview of the depression rates in Alaska, what may be contributing to the problem, and how therapists can help.
Understanding Alaska’s Depression Rates
How Bad Is Depression in Alaska?
While the national suicide rate average is about 11.5 people per every 100,000 citizens in the continental U.S., it’s 21.8 per every 100,000 people in Alaska—nearly double.
One reason many professionals suspect suicide rates are higher in Alaska is because of the state’s natural geography. Many people are subjected to significantly less sunlight. Because the human body emits a feel-good and energy-producing hormone called serotonin when it is exposed to sunlight, areas like Barrow, Alaska, which experiences 67 days of straight darkness, are especially dangerous for people who are prone to Major Depressive Disorder with a Seasonal Pattern, commonly known as Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD); this is a type of depression that relates to sunlight exposure.
What Can You Do to Combat the Problem?
Fortunately, there is a lot you can do to prevent SAD, even if you are prone to the condition and live in an area of Alaska impacted by darkness. In addition to using a light therapy box, you can also work with a therapist to work through emotional problems you might be struggling with. Professional therapists will talk to you about how you are feeling and will ask about when you started experiencing problems, making it easier to recognize and resolve the symptoms of depression. Also, because a lack of sunlight deprives people of vitamin D, it’s crucial to eat foods like fatty fish including Alaska’s famous salmon, eggs and wild mushrooms, which contain a lot of it.
Don’t let depression and anxiety get you down. By working with Colleen Torrence, MEd, LPC you can prevent SAD. For nearly 20 years, this licensed professional therapist has been committed to helping kids, adolescents, adults, and seniors to understand and cope with their personal emotional challenges. Whether you are dealing with the onset of new symptoms or you have been living with anxiety tied to trauma, she will help. To schedule an appointment, send her office a message online or call (907) 789-9212.