Holiday Stress: Philadelphia doctor shares tips to know when to seek help

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- In the countdown to Christmas, it can feel like there's no time to do anything, let alone take care of yourself.

But one expert says that's exactly what we should be doing.

"I think there are experiences of holiday blues, experiences of holiday stress," said Dr. Deanna Nobleza, clinical associate professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Human Behavior at Jefferson Health.

Nobleza, who is a psychiatrist, says it's normal to feel stressed around the holidays. But there are warning signs that you've got beyond the typical stress.

"If people are having that thought, 'Something does not seem right with my mental health.' Whether that is depression, making it difficult out of bed, whether it's anxiety," she said. Those could be signs to seek help.

And more people have been seeking that help in the past year.

The 6abc Data Journalism Team found 11.8% of people surveyed in the Philadelphia area received counseling or therapy during this week of December in 2020.

Nine percent of people needed it but didn't get it, and more than 18% took prescriptions for mental health. During the same week in 2021, there's been an increase in the number of people needing therapy but not getting it and a nearly 5% rise in the number of people who took prescriptions.

"We are absolutely seeing more and more people reach out for help," said Nobleza.

Some are doing so because of the stress of COVID.

"The pandemic has added on layers to that baseline stress and anxiety," she added.

But it's also made some people more comfortable asking for help.

"We can ask our loved ones for help navigating the system. We can ask professionals. We can ask our primary care provider," said Nobleza.

Nobleza's office features a sign about the national Crisis Text Line. People can get help by texting "Hello" to 741-741. There's also a 24-hour national hotline that provides links to local experts to connect people with mental health resources. That phone number is 1-800-662-4357.

"We need to check in with ourselves," she said.

An additional resource is the Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.

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