Leading health experts at Brand New Day, a Medicare-approved health plan and subsidiary of Bright HealthGroup (NYSE: BHG), are advising the public to prepare for the “holiday blues,” where some experience clinical depression for the first time and those with mental illness see their symptoms worsen. The American Psychological Association found that an estimated 38% of the population endure higher levels of stress during the holidays, leading to physical illness, depression, anxiety and substance abuse. Meanwhile, the National Alliance on Mental Illness reports that 64% of people with an existing mental illness say that the holidays worsen their condition.
“The ‘holiday blues’ can be spurred by disruptions in one’s daily schedule, seemingly never-ending social obligations and unpleasant family interactions. They can also manifest due to loneliness, a feeling of being ‘left out’ and having little to no family support. Being isolated during this time of year, in fact, can be particularly devastating and has been known to lead to dire consequences,” says James Pratty, M.D., director of behavioral health for Brand New Day, which is available in 22 counties in California (23 starting in 2022). “Members enrolled in our Embrace program (Brand New Day’s plan for those with mental illness) are encouraged to follow certain protocols during the holidays. Suggestions are also offered to those whose lives cross paths with them including neighbors, work colleagues, family and others.”
For those with mental health issues, Brand New Day suggests reaching out to loved ones, making and keeping doctors appointments, taking prescribed medications, not taking drugs and alcohol, exercising regularly even if it’s a walk around the block, exploring nature, cutting back on social media time, not overeating, getting plenty of sleep, avoiding toxic people and volunteering for a cause.
For those whose lives cross paths with someone who may be down and showing signs of depression, consider reaching out and inviting them to a get-together, share news of activities that may interest them, drop off some baked goods or a good book, etc. If you see changes in their mood and behavior pay attention. Do they appear more withdrawn than usual? Are they behaving more erratically, irritably and impulsively? Are they not responding to your texts or calls? Do they mention self-harm, hopelessness for the future or suicidal tendencies? If so, Pratty says to immediately call for professional help.
Brand New Day is a subsidiary of Bright Health Group, (NYSE: BHG).
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Disclaimer: The views, suggestions, and opinions expressed here are the sole responsibility of the experts. No Fortune Thinker journalist was involved in the writing and production of this article.