Mental health experts warn that the holiday season could be 'the hardest part' of the pandemic

"I think they confront us with issues that are probably already there”

December 17, 2020

    Mental health experts are warning that the holidays will likely be the toughest part of 2020. A recent survey revealed that loneliness in the U.S. is higher than ever before.

    “There's been of course, a systemic problem with loneliness before even, and this was compounded by COVID-19 by the pandemic because of rules and regulations that were absolutely crucial for reducing the infection rate,” says Dr. Sabine Schmid.

    Schmid is an assistant professor of psychiatry in the University of Minnesota Medical School and says that the holidays are historically a difficult time for mental health.

    “They bring out emotions and issues. I think they confront us with issues that are probably already there.”

    Dr. Schmid, who is also a clinical psychologist with M Health Fairview says it's important for people to do an honest evaluation with themselves, especially if they have lingering feelings of loneliness.

    “If we ignore that signal or we cannot act on that prolonged loneliness is a state of distress of not getting our social needs met.”

    The non-profit Kaiser Family Foundation found that one in four adults 65 and older reported anxiety and depression during the month of August. Staying connected during the pandemic has been tougher for older Americans, especially with the reliance of social media and video streaming to communicate.

    “They are not as used to it,” Schmid tells News Talk 830 WCCO’s Mark Freie. “And it's also a little bit of the, you know, I shouldn't have to learn new technology to see my doctor.”

    As for celebrating this holiday season. Dr. Schmid says it's important to be real with how you are feeling.

    “Embrace your individuality and definitely own your emotions. It's totally fine to have intense and even seemingly incompatible emotions to be grieving, to be sad and to want to celebrate in your own individual way.”

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