Seasonal Depression in People & Pets Across America

By: CertaPet Staff Updated: October 24, 2022

what is seasonal depression

What is Seasonal Depression?

With chilly temperatures and shorter days often comes lower serotonin levels and changes in mood, due to seasonal depression, or seasonal affective disorder (SAD) as it’s formally known. What is seasonal affective disorder? It’s commonly described as the “wintertime blues,” where depression or mood shifts can occur from changes in the season. In some, seasonal depression can cause symptoms like low energy, sluggishness, or difficulty concentrating. In others, it can mean weight gain, oversleeping, and feelings of hopelessness. 

According to Mental Health America, nearly 5% of Americans experience seasonal affective disorder (SAD) in any given year. But humans are not the only ones impacted by seasonal changes. Our fluffy friends can also experience their own form of wintertime sadness––canine seasonal affective disorder, which can cause lethargy or withdrawal in our pups during the frigid, winter months. 

So where in the U.S. do residents and their pups suffer from this seasonal funk the most? The CertaPet team investigated. We turned to Google Trends search data to uncover which states were Googling terms like “seasonal depression,” “seasonal affective disorder,” and even, “dog depression” most during the months of October 2020 through March 2021. We also looked at climate data from the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to uncover which states experience the most severe cold temperatures and the lowest amount of sunlight during the winter months. 

We compiled these data points for all fifty states and ranked them to uncover which states’ residents and their pups are most (and least) susceptible to seasonal depression. 

In addition to seasonal depression, our nation is currently undergoing a mental health crisis, spurred by the pandemic. Google searches of specific mental health conditions like anxiety and PTSD soared in 2020. For this reason, we wanted to uncover which mental health conditions people were Googling most over the past year, both nationwide and on a state-by-state basis. 

Read on to find out what seasonal depression looks like in your state.



We considered five ranking factors to determine the U.S. states that are most and least susceptible to seasonal depression. Each of the five factors was graded on a five-point scale, with a score of five representing the most favorable conditions. We determined each state’s score from the total of its individual factor scores, which were weighted according to their impact on seasonal depression in both people and pets. The sum of these weights is 10, which creates a total possible state score of 50.

The five ranking factors are listed below with their respective weights and source data:


1. Search volume of the term “seasonal depression” from 10/1/2020 – 2/28/2021

  • Weight: 2.00
  • Source:  Google Trends


2. Search volume of the term “seasonal affective disorder” from 10/1/2020 – 2/28/2021

  • Weight: 2.00
  • Source: Google Trends


3. Search volume of the term “dog depression” from 10/1/2020 – 2/28/2021

  • Weight: 2.00
  • Source: Google Trends


4. The average percentage of sunshine during the winter months

  • Weight: 2.25
  • Source: National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)


5. The average temperature (in Fahrenheit) during the winter months 

  • Weight: 1.75
  • Source: National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)


For the search volume ranking factors, Google Trends has a search volume index from 0 – 100, where 0 = lowest search volume, and 100 = highest search volume during a designated time period. 

For the average percentage of sunshine ranking factor, winter months include December, January, and February. The percentage of sunshine during these months measures the percentage of time between sunrise and sunset that sunshine reaches the ground. The averages are derived from multiple decades of weather measurements. 

For the average temperature ranking factor, the temperatures are state-wide averages calculated from temperatures recorded during the months of December, January, and February.


Analyzing Seasonal Depression State-by-State

Best and Worst States for Seasonal Depression

With a state score of 40.68 out of 50, Hawaii is the state least susceptible to seasonal depression according to our ranking. In Hawaii, the percentage of time between sunrise and sunset that sunshine reaches the ground during the winter months is 65%, which is significantly above average. The US average is 49.3%. 

Additionally, the average temperature during the winter months in Hawaii is a comfortable 67.4 degrees. Again, far more ideal than the U.S. average temperature of 32.2 degrees during the winter months. Further, the search volume of seasonal depression terms is low across the board, indicating this isn’t necessarily a topic that residents in the Aloha State are Googling frequently. 

Missouri, Florida, and Arizona follow as the next states least susceptible to seasonal depression with state scores hovering above 39 out of 50 for each state. 

At the other end of the spectrum, Alaska and Ohio are the states most susceptible to seasonal depression with scores of 19.58 and 19.97, respectively. Alaska’s average temperature during the winter months is just above freezing at 2.6 degrees, while its average percentage of sunshine during the winter is only 34%. What’s more, search volume for the term “seasonal affective disorder” was 88––notably high in comparison to other states.

In Ohio specifically, search volume for the term “seasonal depression” was 100––the highest of all 50 states. To boot, its average percentage of sunshine during the winter months is only 36% and its average temperature is a chilly 29.5 degrees. Minnesota and Montana followed as states most susceptible to seasonal depression with state scores of 21.68 and 22.08, respectively.


a chart displaying the correlation between sunshine and Google searches of seasonal depression in each state

From there we were able to determine the correlation between the percentage of sunshine and Google search volume of the term “seasonal depression” on a state-by-state basis. When we zoom in on these two factors, we can see that Ohio residents are experiencing the wintertime blues most, followed by Michigan, Maryland, Vermont, and Alaska. Meanwhile, with high average percentages of sunshine and low search volume of the term “seasonal depression,” sunny states like Arizona, California, and Nevada are far less susceptible to seasonal mood swings.


The Top-Searched Mental Health Conditions Across the US

a US map plotting the top-searched mental health condition in each state

Into year two of a pandemic, mental health concerns caused by chronic stress have cropped up around the US. We pulled a list of common mental health conditions and disorders, mapped out by the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), and ran each term through Google Trends in order to find the most searched mental health condition in each state and nationwide over the past 12 months. 

Insomnia is the most Googled mental health condition by far, top-searched in 20 states, predominantly in the Southeast, Southwest, & Northeast regions of the US, followed by ADHD, top-searched in seven states, and bipolar disorder, top-searched in six states.

a chart listing the top-searched mental health conditions in the US


Seasonal Depression in People and Pets: Final Thoughts

That wraps up our study on seasonal depression in America. For pet parents, at least we know that when seasonal depression strikes, we’ll have our fur babies nearby to help lift our spirits and bring joy to our day-to-day lives. And if you or someone you know suffers from depression or anxiety, CertaPet can help connect you to consultation for a psychiatric service dog or emotional support animal to help support your mental wellness.  

You may also like

Page [tcb_pagination_current_page] of [tcb_pagination_total_pages]

All product and Company names are Trademarks™ or Registered® trademarks of their respective holders.

Disclosure: Bear in mind that some of the links in this post are affiliate links and if you go through them to make a purchase may earn a commission. Keep in mind that we link these companies and their products because of their quality and not because of the commission we receive from your purchases. The decision is yours, and whether or not you decide to buy something is completely up to you.