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The NHS is reminding people that while the festive season is a time to be jolly, for some it can be anything but.
For those already coping with serious problems like the loss of a job, money worries, bereavement or the end of a relationship, the festivities and increased drinking can make them feel even more depressed.
That is why NHS Dartford, Gravesham and Swanley Clinical Commissioning Group, which plans and pays for the bulk of the area’s health services, is reminding people that help is at hand.
GP Dr Liz Lunt, who leads on mental health, said: “Most people look forward to Christmas. But for some, it can be an unhappy and dangerous time. Suicides for both men and women increase at this time of the year.
“Talking to friends and family is one of the best things to do when you are feeling down.
"But if everyone seems too busy to talk or pay attention, you can end up feeling more isolated than ever.”
Dr Lunt, who works at The Oaks surgery at Swanley, warned: “If the way you feel is affecting your everyday life, it is important to seek help. It could make a big difference.”
People affected by anxiety, depression or other common mental health problems may be eligible for free NHS talking therapy.
They can refer themselves using the Kent and Medway Live It Well website at www.liveitwell.org.uk or they can talk to their GP.
"If the way you feel is affecting your everyday life, it is important to seek help. It could make a big difference" - Dr Liz Lunt
There is also 24-hour confidential emotional support and guidance for Kent and Medway from the Mental Health Matters helpline on 0800 107 0160.
Staff are trained to provide help over the phone and have details of other local and national services.
The Samaritans has confidential support for anyone feeling down, depressed or anxious.
Call them any time of the day or night on 08457 909090 or e-mail email@example.com
Visit www.samaritans.org to find your nearest branch for a face-to-face talk.
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