by Lucy Sullivan
Well you probably didn’t know that the difference in elevation can change your whole lifestyle. From the way you sleep, how you eat, dress, and the difference in elevation can even influence your habits too. In Idaho we’ve all come to terms with the obnoxiously long cold winters and averagely warm summers. So what's the difference? How is living higher up better or worse? To be truthful, living in places like Idaho is like a double edged sword. For instance, being able to skip school because of a blizzard, staying inside drinking cocoa snuggled up in a blanket on the couch, making Christmas cookies when it’s 5 degrees outside and you should probably be doing your homework but not till you find the best cookie to eat before your siblings do. And sometimes having some of the best skiing and snowboarding weather can be really hard. One of the down sides is when it snows too hard it can be very dangerous for cars and people just trying to get to work, school, and even buying their weekly groceries.
Living in higher elevations has its share of mental challenges too. “Researchers reviewed and analyzed previous evidence linking higher altitude of residence to increased risk of suicide and depression, and considered possible explanations for these associations. "There are significant regional variations in the rates of major depressive disorder and suicide in the United States, suggesting that sociodemographic and environmental conditions contribute," (Dr. Kious and coauthors write). They analyzed 12 studies, most performed in the United States, including population-based data on the relationship between suicide or depression and altitude. While the studies used varying methods, most reported that higher-altitude areas had increased rates of depression and suicide. In general, the correlation was stronger for suicide than for depression.”
Due to Idaho’s long winters we don’t get as much vitamin D which we need. Decreased sun exposure has been associated with a drop in peoples serotonin levels, which can lead to major depression with seasonal patterns. I have known people who have struggled with depression and seasonal depression. A lot of people just write it off “Oh they'll grow out of it, it’s just a phase” well sometimes people don’t grow out of it and can’t move on with their life because of depression or the pain of not knowing if someone will want to listen to you and your troubles. Living at high elevations and altitudes have a tremendous effect on your mental and physical well being.