Well, guys, the weather is getting colder, holiday events are around the corner, and high stress levels can be more prevalent now than ever. There are many ways to manage your stress and even differentiate if the sadness you're feeling is either seasonal blues or if it is depression.
Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois Chief Medical Officer, Dr Derek Robinson, weighs in. This is an exciting topic for me to talk about. It's such a such an important term, mental health. Everyone is talking about it everywhere. But can you talk about the stressors and triggers that negatively impact our mental health?
Sure. Let me start by saying this can be a very exciting time of the year as we enter the holidays and celebrate religious traditions and cultural traditions, as well as the upcoming New Year. But it also can be a time that brings about stress. And we know that our collective mental health has taken a toll over the last couple of years.
And so as we go into the holiday season, I think it's important to note that about 1 in 3 adults across the state of Illinois are experiencing symptoms of depression. And even as we look at our young people between the ages of 12 and 17, 145,000 of them are living with depression.
So we want to ensure that we enter the season with both awareness, as well as a posture of support, so that we can help our friends and family through this period of time.
With the holidays come so many different things. People coming over your house, maybe you've lost a loved one. Maybe it's that time where you're just now getting back with your family - maybe after a situation you guys had maybe last year. So it can definitely trigger a lot of stress. But how can we overcome and manage that stress and overcome feelings of being overwhelmed?
You're absolutely right. A lot of things can come along with getting together; the anniversary of the deaths of family members who might not be present. We've got the daily chores of parenting and commuting and paying bills. There are a lot of things that can really serve as triggers to folks this time of the year. But I have a couple of suggestions.
So one, take careful inventory of your own expectations. Figure out what are the things that you can do and that you cannot do in terms of upholding family traditions or cooking big meals or how many people you have over set those boundaries and then do your best to stick to them so you have some control over your stresses.
The second, I would say is practice self-care. So one, ensure that you've got your vaccines. Consider wearing a mask if you've got a bunch of people gathering indoors, since we've got a lot of infections that are traveling around this holiday season.
And certainly if you're feeling sick, stay home and get well. Get some rest. And then ensure that you are looking for opportunities to be compassionate to yourself. Sometimes you can feel a lot of expectations, and those can be pretty significant and they can be negative, and we don't want to do that.
We want to ensure that we give ourselves some grace and compassion, practice some calming practices if you have those and get through the holidays if you're having some challenges.
Yeah. Now there's holiday blues and there's depression. There's a difference between the two. Can you explain that a little more?
Well, I would say typically we think about the holiday blues. You think about symptoms that are shorter in duration. It tends to come with the holidays and resolve thereafter. I think individuals should have a lot more concerns if they find themselves with excessive sadness, excessive sleeping, you're eating more or eating less, or these things are happening for a prolonged period of time that far exceeds the holidays.
And certainly if you have any concerns about this, I certainly would encourage you to reach out to your healthcare team or to your doctor for more information.
Yeah. What are some tips that you can give folks out there if they do want to seek help or if they need help?
Absolutely. So first I would say if you have a behavioral health provider or a physician, definitely reach out to them if you feel that you need some help or if you have a family member that you think needs help. If you're a Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois member, you can certainly reach out to us at the number that's on the back of your insurance card or through our website or our Provider Finder tool.
For individuals who want to reach out by text message, there's an Illinois call for calm text message. So you can send a text message to 552020 and just send a text talk and someone will respond.
And then certainly for individuals who feel that they're near a crisis state, we have the National Suicide Prevention Line, which is 989. So feel free to use that line if you have concerns about yourself or a loved one that's in crisis.