This weather can't possibly be bad for our mental health. Right?

The shortest days of the year are well behind us, but Seattleites know all too well that seasonal affective disorder is still as pervasive around here as the Starbucks on every street corner.

While we may seem focused on getting rid of those mid-winter blues—or at least caffeinating the hell out of them—the health issue that’s actually giving Seattleites the most anxiety is, well, just that. According to Healthline’s newly released Wellness USA study, as many as 48 percent of study participants in Seattle cite anxiety as their biggest health concern—the highest in the nation.

"There’s a lot of anxiety in general in the U.S. right now,” says Steve Swasey, Healthline’s VP of communications. “I was not surprised to see anxiety being at the top of the list of concerns from folks in Seattle."                                                 

Career-driven competition in the world’s top tech companies, Swasey suspects, could have something to do with it. And it’s not tough to come up with other reasons for our affliction. At work, we’re hounded by imposter syndrome. The Seattle Freeze keeps us at home watching Netflix. FOMO has us glued to social media. The lack of sun certainly can’t help things. And how about that Big One?

To no one’s surprise, depression was also a top contender, with 36 percent listing it as their main worry. 37 percent of study participants cited weight as their main concern. Less than three percent of participants worried most about their “ability to get birth control or reproductive services," likely thanks to programs like the Washington State Title X Network clinic, which offers contraceptives on a sliding-fee scale.

The nationwide study, conducted in November 2019, surveyed over 2,000 adults in 18 major U.S. cities, including Los Angeles, Portland, and San Francisco. Overall, it found that Americans’ top five health concerns are weight, anxiety, lack of sleep, lack of exercise, and depression. 

As for the most health-conscious city? That title goes to Miami, way on the other end of the country. All that Florida sunshine must be nice. But don’t give up hope just yet—Seattleites ranked first in the nation for being “proactive about their health,” and 68 percent of Seattleites try to reduce stress in their lives.

Maybe that’s why we’re such a dog-friendly city: 75 percent of pet owners report improved mental health, according to a study by the Human Animal Bond Research Institute. Or why 53 percent of us, according to the Healthline study, want to eat a better diet. As for the exercise front, we certainly take advantage of our PNW hiking trails. Oh, and I suppose a few Seattleites smoke weed.

So the next time your out-of-town friend asks if we really are sleepless in Seattle, well…you could say that. But at least we’re far from alone. 

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