Pandemic makes holiday even more stressful


SAN DIEGO — Fallout from the coronavirus pandemic is creating a mental health crisis in San Diego, a local therapist says.

Dr. Jennifer Guerguis is a marriage and family therapist and co-owner of Serene Health, a new therapy business that promises same-day appointment no matter where you are physically located. With the holidays around the corner and coronavirus spreading rapidly, she said the need for counseling and therapy is greater than ever before.

“There’s a fear of getting sick, maybe being asymptomatic, being out there — out in public — and coming in contact (the virus), getting sick or getting your loved ones sick,” Guerguis said.

In the best of times, the holidays can be stressful, but with cases of COVID-19 surging and new restrictive health orders, reports of depression have gone way up.

“The numbers are up. We see the new statistics of how depression has increased,” Guerguis said.

People are turning to therapy in rapid numbers, Guerguis said, including children and the elderly. But a shortage of therapists has led to long wait times, which which makes it difficult for people to get help when they need it.

“Losing your job — that’s a huge thing without COVID. Financially, you’re going to be impacted so there’s a huge stressor of what the future holds,” Guerguis said.

Adding to the stress is the uncertainty of when the pandemic is going to end and, more immediately, what is the right thing to do over the holidays.

“What is safe? What shouldn’t we be doing and what we want to do – so there’s that back-and-forth internally that we all experience. Some people are like, maybe I just cancel everything and stay safe at home and how is it going to impact me then, being by myself at home and not staying connected with family,” she said

You can find out more about therapy at the Serene Health website.

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