Seasonal variations in environmental light influence switches between moods in seasonal affective disorder (SAD) and bipolar disorder (BD), with depression arising during short active (SA) winter periods. Light-induced changes in behavior are also seen in healthy animals and are intensified in mice with reduced dopamine transporter expression. Specifically, decreasing the nocturnal active period (SA) of mice increases punishment perseveration and forced swim test (FST) immobility. Elevating acetylcholine with the acetylcholinesterase inhibitor physostigmine induces depression symptoms in people and increases FST immobility in mice. We used SA photoperiods and physostigmine to elevate acetylcholine prior to testing in a probabilistic learning task and the FST, including reversing subsequent deficits with nicotinic and scopolamine antagonists and targeted hippocampal adeno-associated viral administration. We confirmed that physostigmine also increases punishment sensitivity in a probabilistic learning paradigm. In addition, muscarinic and nicotinic receptor blockade attenuated both physostigmine-induced and SA-induced phenotypes. Finally, viral-mediated hippocampal expression of human AChE used to lower ACh levels blocked SA-induced elevation of FST immobility. These results indicate that increased hippocampal acetylcholine neurotransmission is necessary for the expression of SA exposure-induced behaviors. Furthermore, these studies support the potential for cholinergic treatments in depression. Taken together, these results provide evidence for hippocampal cholinergic mechanisms in contributing to seasonally depressed affective states induced by short day lengths.