Portland Depression (causes and treatment)

This article will discuss, “ Portland Depression”, a short introduction to depression, it’s major signs and symptoms with classifications, causes of depression in Portland, treatments for Portland Depression and a few frequently asked questions.

Portland has high and alarming rate of Depression because:

  • Geographical location of the city
  • Gloomy winter with limited sunlight
  • Lack of treatment facilities
  • Very few psychiatrists and mental health professional
  • Lack of focus and attention on Mental and Psychological Well being
  • Stress and Instability among people
  • Lack of awareness among people about mental health related concerns


Depression is a mood disorder that is often called Unipolar Depression or Major Depressive Disorder. It is one of the most common and prevalent mental disorders.

According to the American Psychiatric Association (2013), the two key symptoms of Depression are Depressed mood and the loss of pleasure and interest, Anhedonia during the same 2-week period. Apart from these two symptoms, Depressive patients also undergo other symptoms such as insomnia and hypersomnia, psychomotor agitation, loss of energy, worthlessness, diminished ability to think and concentrate, and recurrent thoughts of death, suicidal ideation. 

Symptoms of Depression

  • Depressed and Low mood
  • Anhedonia
  • Feeling of hopelessness
  • Worthlessness and Helplessness
  • Lack of concentration
  • Thoughts on ending life
  • Difficulty in sleep
  • Irritability and Agitation
  • Fluctuation in appetite
  • Difficulty in decision making.

Types of Depression based on severity:

Based on the severity of the symptoms and their duration, two major types of depression are Major Depressive Disorder or Clinical Depression and Chronic

Depressive Disorder/ Dysthymia. 

To be diagnosed with MDD, there should be five depressive symptoms that last for at least 2 weeks. Adding to that, there should either be a depressed mood or loss of interest. 

MDD is a periodic or episodic disorder where the symptoms go on and off over time. Along with it, suicide ideation and thought of death are common. 

Persistent Depression Disorder, Dysthymia

One of the essential features of Dysthymia is a depressed mood that lasts throughout the day for at least 2years, in the case of children the duration is for 1 year. Along with depressed mood, they should also experience two of the six symptoms (poor appetite, sleep disturbance, low energy, low self-esteem, trouble in concentrating, and hopelessness) It has an early and insidious onset. 

Seasonal Affective Disorder

It is known for recurrent depressive episodes occurring typically in winter. The severity of the episode ranges from mild to moderate and in the worse case, has a risk of suicide ad well. It is more prevalent in people in the northern part of the world than in summer. The change in melatonin is responsible for this episode, they show more change in melatonin than the rest.

Bi-Polar Disorder

Two types of Bi-Polar disorder is, BP-1 and BP-2. Manic Symptom is the defining feature of the two and the severity of the two differentiate these. Bi-Polar 1 is known as Manic-Depressive Disorder where there is a single episode of mania during their lifetime however, they may or may not have depressive episodes. 

While Bi-Polar 2 is characterised by hypomanic (a milder version of Manic) episodes with Major Depressive Episodes. 

Bipolar 1 Disorder is much rarer than MDD and the prevalence rate is 0.6% and Bi-Polar affects somewhere between 0.4 to 2%.

Cyclothymic Disorder

It is also a chronic mood disorder where the proposed symptom (numerous episodes of hypomanic symptoms and depressive symptoms) last for at least 2 years. They experience frequent alternating mild symptoms of Mania and Depression. People with cyclothymic rays have a high risk of developing Mania and Major Depression. About 3-5% of psychiatric patients are diagnosed with Cyclothymic Disorder.

Postpartum Depression

Almost 80% of new mothers are diagnosed with this depression and it follows after 15% of birth. It is a blend of physical, emotional and behavioural changes that a woman undergoes after giving birth. The diagnosis is based on the length of time between their onset and delivery and the severity of depression. 

Some of the symptoms are difficulty in sleeping, appetite change, fatigue, decreased libido and frequent mood change. It generally begins within the 4 weeks after delivery.

Portland Depression

Portland and Vancouver are the two cities in the United States that were rated and found to be the highest rate of depression in the country.

And according to another report finding, it was shown that amongst the 150 largest cities in the United State, Portland and Vancouver have the highest rate and incidence of depression followed by Washington.

The assessment was done with the evaluation of each city on different domains such as income-growth rate, how the leisure times were spent each day, etc. These domains are broadly classified as three key dimensions, Emotional and Physical Well Being, Income and Employment and Community and Environment. The list has revealed that Portland scored low on this dimension placing it in the lower group.

Along with the low scores on these dimensions of well-being and the high rate of depression, the state itself is not well-versed and open to deal with cases of depression. 

In an overview, the country was ranked worst and lowest in terms of mental illness rates amongst all other countries.

Causes of Portland Depression

There is no clear cut and single out cause of depression in an individual, often the interplay of different factors contribute to depression. Most of the stressors are personal leading to depression while others can be psychological, social as well as environmental.

Much of cases of depression in Portland is caused by their weather thus diagnosed with Seasonal Affective Depression while others could be traced to their personal stressors and other dysfunctions.

Some of the major causes of Portland Depression are:

Dark and Dreary Winter

Dark and grey winter with no sunlight and rainy days often results in depression. Most of the people tend to feel lonely, isolated and hibernate during cold and windy winters. The lack of social interaction and happening around predispose the person to low mood, thus gradually leading to depression.

Lack of sunlight

Receiving proper and full sunlight through the day helps in regulating our internal biological clock or the circadian rhythm. When people don’t receive enough sunlight that helps in the proper functioning of their internal biological clock, they feel low, lethargic and are depressed. Portland’s winter being very gloomy and minimal sunlight, most of the people and residents are diagnosed with Seasonal Affective Depression. 

Geographical Location of the city

The city is located 45-degree latitude, owing to which the days are shorter in winter and people don’t receive enough sunlight that triggers low and depressed mood throughout the season. 

Lack of care and attention are given to people with Mental Health issues

Another reason contributing to high mental illness rate and the low rank of Portland when it comes to mental health is that no proper treatment and attention are given to people with depression and other mental health-related issues and concerns. People had to live with their illness rather than providing help. Thus, the severity of symptoms tends to aggravate and many residents and locals are victims of mental health-related issues and concerns. 

Few Psychiatrist and Mental health Professional

Portland has very few Psychiatrists as well as Mental Health Professionals due to the low salary in the first place. The limited number of psychiatrists are always occupied with their clients coming from different backgrounds and each with their own struggles. Many are often left untreated since help and treatment are not accessible and reachable to all the individuals.

Stress and Instability

The instability and stress faced by people are the major contributors toward mental health-related problems and concerns in Portland residents. Many people are left without any accommodation and are homeless solely due to inadequate treatment and help received. 

These are some of the major reasons behind Portland Depression and the low rank of Portland when it comes to Mental Health and wellbeing of the people. The prime reason behind their depression that is the Seasonal Affective Depression is because of the geographical location where they receive very few and limited sunlight. Other than that, lack of treatment facilities and help adds on to the count.

Coping with Portland Depression

Despite the high rate of depression and the incidence in Portland, there are ways to cope up with Portland Depression and one can follow certain treatment options that will help them alleviate the symptoms and feel better.

Some of the coping mechanism of Portland Depresion are:

Light Therapy

It is apparent that the geographical location of the city itself is a big disadvantage and a major contributor to Seasonal Affective Depression in the resident, thus to help them alleviate and get over with the depressive symptoms, light therapy can help them alleviate the symptoms. Light bulbs like halogen can actually aid as early morning sunshine, which is bright and illuminating. 

Use of accredited light box

The lack of sunlight can be compensated for by the use of light boxes. Fluorescent light that doesn’t contain or produce much Ultraviolet rays can be used. One can sit in front of the light box for about an hour or two to make sure that their symptoms are under control.

Melatonin supplements

Taking melatonin supplements will compensate for the loss of natural melatonin regulation and production. The supplement along with lightbox will help the person secrete enough melatonin and thus results in effective functioning of their body.

Recruiting more mental health professional

As a collective effort, Portland can actually recruit more mental health professionals, thus the need and well-being of all the people suffering and diagnosed with mental health related issues and concerns will be addressed. With more workers, therapy sessions would reach out to more people and there would be constant check on their psychological and over well being.

These are the treatment options available for the individual as well as to the city as whole. A collective effort would help Portland deal better with the alarming number of people diagnosed with depression and other related psychological illnesses. 

FAQs: Portland Depression

Is Portland Oregon a depressing place to live?

Yes, Portland has the highest rate of Depression among almost 150 large cities in the world.

Is it always cloudy in Portland Oregon?

Yes, except for spring and fall, most of the days in Portland are rainy days.

Is everyone in Portland crazy?

No, most of the people in Portland are middle aged and working class.

BetterHelp: A Better Alternative

Those who are seeking therapy online may also be interested in BetterHelp. BetterHelp offers plenty of formats of therapy, ranging from live chats, live audio sessions and live video sessions. In addition, unlimited messaging through texting, audio messages and even video messages are available here.

BetterHelp also offers couples therapy and therapy for teenagers in its platform. Furthermore, group sessions can also be found in this platform, covering more than twenty different topics related to mental health and mental illness. The pricing of BetterHelp is also pretty cost-effective, especially considering the fact that the platform offers financial aid to most users.


This article discussed, “ Portland Depression”, a short introduction to depression, it’s major signs and symptoms with classifications, causes of depression in Portland, treatments for Portland Depression and a few frequently asked questions.

For more information, follow the sites mentioned below:




Boldug, K. (2016). Seasonal depression prevalent in Portland, according to an OHSU professor. fox 12. https://www.kptv.com/news/seasonal-depression-prevalent-in-portland-according-to-ohsu-professor/article_55c68abf-02ff-577d-ba74-c540137d58b8.html

Williams, K. (2019). Portland and Vancouver rated as two most depressed cities in the U.S.: report. health. https://www.oregonlive.com/health/2017/03/portland_and_vancouver_rated_a.html

Was this helpful?

Thanks for your feedback!