For some people, Christmas can be stressful.

The Christmas holidays generally are a happy and joyful occasion but for some it can be a worrying and even depressing time.

South West Hospital and Health Service Mental Health Service Director Christine McDougall said the expense of gifts and food, the pressure of shopping and the expectations of the festive season could make Christmas an extremely stressful time.

“Unfortunately, some people find themselves alone at Christmas, leading to feelings of isolation and depression and even those who spend Christmas with family and friends can experience negative feelings,’’ she said.

“Hosting events and worrying about all the arrangements and expectations can end up making the festive season very stressful and busy.”

Ms McDougall said this time of year also could stir up many emotions in people and it was important for family and friends to be on the lookout for each other.

“If someone has experienced relationship issues or financial pressures, this tends to the time of year when emotions can boil over,’’ he said.

“This is actually a time of need for many in our community. We all need to support each other to help cope with the pressure of the holidays.

“Something as simple as a phone call to a relative or friend to let them know they have support could mean a world of difference to that person.

“The South West HHS will have mental health clinicians available over the festive period to deal with any concerns and contact can be made through your local health facility.

“But professional mental health support also is available 24/7 by phoning 1300 MH CALL (1300 64 2255).’’

Ms McDougall said people should learn to recognise the early signs of stress and act on them to prevent further stress and anxiety.

“It’s very useful for people to understand the impact stress can have on their lives and learn ways to reduce stress levels and manage stressful situations,” she said.

“Setting up a ‘to-do’ list to help you feel organised is a useful tool during the busy festive season.’’

Ms McDougall said she tried to stay on top of her health over the Christmas period to reduce her stress levels.

“I find I’m less stressed when I’m active and healthy, so over the Christmas period I try to eat plenty of fruit and vegetables and get regular exercise,’’ she said.

For mental health support 24/7 phone 1300 MH CALL (1300 64 2255).

Or call Lifeline on 13 11 14.

Media professionals are reminded of the Mindframe for media professionals resources in relation to the sensitive and responsible reporting of suicide and mental illness. Please refer to http://www.mindframe-media.info/for-media

For further information contact:

James Guthrie

Principal Media Officer, Rural and Remote Qld

Media and Communication

Department of Health

(07) 3708 5379

Jim.Guthrie@health.qld.gov.au