The holiday blues are usually temporary feelings of anxiety or depression. There's shopping and a mad rush to buy things, social events, seeing relatives that stress you out – and these pressures can be very draining.

Just around the corner, the saddest day of the year is Blue Monday, usually the third Monday of the New Year, which this year falls on January 17, 2022. Emphasis should be placed on the word "temporary," but that doesn't stop people from feeling overwhelmed.

However, according to New Bedford psychiatrist Dr. Jonathan Schwartz, some of the signs of more persistent depression are feelings of emptiness or hopelessness, angry outbursts over small matters, sleep disturbances, or a loss of interest or pleasure in sex and normal activities, among others.

"The pandemic has really overburdened this region that was already stressed out. It's fair to say the area hospitals, health centers and clinics are all overwhelmed with the number of local people who want and need mental health services," Dr. Schwartz said. "There just aren't enough clinicians, counselors, therapists and people who can prescribe medication."

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People have to start somewhere, so where do we look for relief?

"Your primary care doctor is one resource. I think another excellent resource is a website for Psychology Today Magazine, that I use quite often with good results," he said. "An additional way to find help is to ask someone you know and trust. The Greater New Bedford Community Health Center will also have reliable recommendations."

Schwartz said both locally and nationally, "we are addressing a crisis where people don't really know how to find a counselor or a prescriber, or even where to begin on determining what's wrong with them."

Responding to the shortage of mental health care providers around here, he said, "We're seeing more and more very well-trained psychiatric nurse practitioners who can prescribe medication."

"If you say, 'I don't feel well, I'm not motivated. I'm not enjoying life, or I'm anxious all the time but I don't really know how to get help or figure out what's causing the misery,' turn to a trusted resource, because nothing is more important than to enjoy your life," Dr. Schwartz said. "The goal is when you wake up in the morning, you should look forward to getting some pleasure out of your day ahead."

Dr. Schwartz, in practice locally for 40 years, treats depression successfully using TMS, Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation. His website is concierge-tms.com.

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