Ask Him: Polar Vortex, Total Depression


weathering the storm.

Why do people get depressed on gloomy days?– David

Hey David—

I’m sorry to hear you’re feeling depressed. I’ve definitely been there and can empathize. It is no fun. The complete opposite of fun, in fact. I hope your depression takes place only on gloomy days (unless you live in, like, Seattle, or are in the midst of the ‘Polar Vortex’). If not—if it is what you would consider a regular thing—you should talk to somebody about it. Whether that be family, a friend, a professional, or all of the aforementioned. This can be a difficult topic to broach, but a few moments of extreme discomfort are definitely worth it in the long term. You won’t believe how nice it might feel to finally get it off your chest, and to discover that you are most definitely not alone in the way you feel. (I’m not blowing smoke up your ass right now. These words come from experience.)

As to why gloomy days may make you feel a bit crestfallen, there are a few potential explanations. It may be one of the following, or a combination of them:

1. You’ve been conditioned to feel depressed on gloomy days. It’s not at all uncommon for people to talk about feeling down on gray weather days. You might just put less value into gloomy days than you do in sunny days because that’s the way you’ve always inherently thought it should be. It may help to look at it objectively. When you think about it, gloomy days aren’t that bad, and there are always blue skies on the way.

2. The lack of sun may get to you. If your Vitamin D level goes below a certain point, you may start to feel down. My doctor told me this is common for people in New York and other areas that are surrounded by large skyscrapers (that essentially block out the sun), and in people who spend the vast majority of their day indoors, sitting at a desk. You may want to begin taking a Vitamin D supplement. You may also want to look into purchasing a light therapy system that you can set up in your bedroom or by your desk.

3. You might just not dig gloomy days. This is nothing more than personal preference. If you’re a fan of soaking up the sun and telling everyone to lighten up, then you’re going to feel negative vibes about your day as soon as you throw your curtains open and are greeted with an overcast sky. You mope to the shower and perpetuate your bad mood by listening to, like, The Mountain Goats on your commute into work. You know that after work you’re going to come home and watch a bunch of television. You’ll be sedentary. Any other day you would go to the park and beg complete strangers to let you take their dogs for a run around the reservoir. If you believe this is the case, try to stay positive. Listen to happy music. Do something inside your home or apartment that’s going to be productive, something you don’t want to do on a sunny day, like laundry, bill-paying or a bedroom rearrangement.

4. You may have Seasonal Affective Disorder (also appropriately known as SAD) and are, by no fault of your own, negatively affected by cloudy, gloomy days. It’s a real thing. I grew up in western Pennsylvania, the cloudy day capital of the country (seriously, look it up—more cloudy days than the Pacific Northwest), and I’ve known more than one person who has felt a need to move to a sunnier region for his or her health. You might want to look into moving to a climate that is better for your moods. But I don’t recommend looking into that until you talk to a professional about whether you really have SAD.

I hope you start to feel better. And I cannot stress enough that if you believe this is more than just run-of-the-mill gloominess, you should talk to somebody about it.

Good luck!

All the best,


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