PORTLAND – Portland residents have a new tool against seasonal depression thanks to a bar in Southeast Portland.
In addition to cocktails, coffee drinks and locally sourced food, Lightbar on Southeast Morrison Street offers light and color therapy to help Portlanders combat the winter blues.
Patrons can test out a variety of therapy lights for free while they work on their laptops or chat with friends. A wall of colored LED lights also brightens the space.
“I’ve noticed that every winter, there is a serious lack of color and light,” said owner Alex Carlson.
Carlson, who was a contractor before opening Lightbar in June, said he came up with the idea for the bar a few years ago. It’s the first bar of its kind in Portland.
“I started kicking around the idea and people kept saying, ‘We need that in Portland,’” Carlson said.
The science of SAD
Half of Portland residents suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder, according to Dr. Al Lewy, a psychology professor at Oregon Health & Science University.
“Winter depression is like having jet lag for five months,” Lewy said.
He said SAD is linked to shorter hours of daylight and a lack of Vitamin D. Symptoms of SAD include sleeping more, feeling drowsy and increased appetite.
Related: How to beat Portland’s winter blues
Carlson said he suffers from the winter blues, which is a lesser version of SAD.
“A lot of people are affected by the winter blues, but they don’t really know it,” Carlson said.
Light therapy like the kind offered at Lightbar can combat seasonal depression by exposing people to bright light similar that of the sun.
Carlson said Lightbar also offers the added bonus of personal interaction in addition to light therapy. So far, it seems to be attracting a crowd.
“Right now, it’s gray and rainy outside and almost every table is taken,” Carlson said on Tuesday afternoon. “It’s bright and cheery – I do feel like it helps.”