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El Pasoans turn to faith to avoid "holiday blues"

By: Stacey Welsh

EL PASO, Texas St. Patrick Cathedral usually sees about 700 people during mass, but sees about a thousand during Christmas services.

When that happens, the Reve. Trini Fuentez said guests usually stand by the walls in the church and chapel. Fuentez is the rector at St. Patrick Cathedral.

"We try to be welcoming by sometimes even mentioning 'for those of you that are here just for today, welcome. We cannot do it without you, and we continue to ask you that you continue coming,'" Fuentez said.

While the church is trying to boost attendance among young people, Fuentez also said he's seen an increase in young people wanting to enter the priesthood. He said that's especially true for 18- and 19-year-olds.

The boost in church attendance could also explain people trying to escape the holiday blues.

"Desperations or problems brings us down and cause darkness in our lives. So, faith is the acknowledgement that Jesus is there to help us. That kind of lifts us up a little," Fuentez said.

Texas Tech Medical Center psychiatrist Dr. Robert Gonzalez said many people can be victims of depression during the holiday season.

"Your sleep can be affected either sleeping too much or too little. You can have a sense of worthlessness, a sense of guilt, and if it progresses it can even go to thoughts of death and suicide."

He said that could be because people over-commit themselves, wanting everything to be perfect for holiday celebrations.

"We're spread very thin, We still need to take time for ourselves. Budgeting is very important because the financial stress can be a very big impact on the holiday blues," Gonzalez said.

"It's really tough shopping if you're broke and go into such debt just because you feel like you have to pay for a lot of gifts. So, I just try to pace myself one day at a time," West El Paso resident Jan Burgess said.

Gonzalez also said it's important to continue keeping an eye on friends and family who seem depressed during the holiday season.

"It's not just Christmas and New Year's, but the time immediately afterward. People need to be aware that the risk for suicide may be increased a little bit," Gonzalez said.

Gonzalez also recommends seeking medical help for yourself or loved ones if feelings of depression continue.



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