By CBSLA Staff

LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — For many, the holiday season can often lead to feelings of sadness and loneliness, and doctors say those emotions could be magnified this year due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

A shopper wearing a face mask walks by the Christmas decorations at The Grove. This holiday season is expected to be harder for people as the pandemic compounds feelings of sadness and isolation. (Photo by Valerie Macon/AFP via Getty Images)

“We’re all under and enormous amount of stress nowadays,” Dr. Jon Goldfinger, CEO of Didi Hirsch Mental Health Services, said. “We should check in with ourselves, understand how we’re feeling, how stress is affecting us, if at all, and if we’re experiencing any symptoms of anything we might want to take care of today so that we’re more ready for the holidays.”

Goldfinger said it is important for people to really acknowledge what they are feeling.

“There are different degrees of mental illness or depression, loneliness and everyone needs to understand his or her risk of that,” he said. “Some people know that they have a predisposition for depression. Some people don’t. And so what tends to happen is people end up with needing to seek mental health services, needing to get additional supports and some people just know that they have to take care of themselves a little bit more.”

And, Goldfinger said, those concerned about reaching out to people who might be struggling should not let that stop them from being there for their loved ones.

“The first thing everyone should understand is that you do not increase someone’s risk of suicide by asking about it,” he said. “This is a myth, and it’s absolutely incorrect.

“In fact, simply listening, telling someone, ‘I’m here for you, I care,’ and then stopping to listen and making that clear that you’re there for them can save their life.”

If you or someone you know is thinking about suicide, there is help. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is available 24 hours per day, seven days per week and can be reached by calling 1-800-273-8255.

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