The most joyous time of the year is followed, in many cases, by the onset of bleak and cold weather, and a return to the struggles that have been set aside during the holiday celebration.
Ellen Stowers, volunteer coordinator with Contact Lifeline of the Highland Rim, a 24-hour crisis telephone line serving Bedford, Coffee, Franklin and Moore counties, said calls to Contact Lifeline increase by about 5 percent after the holidays, with most coming in between the hours of 10 p.m. and 3 a.m.
During the holidays, the hustle and bustle leaves people less time to dwell on their situations, and sometimes it's not until after the holidays that issues such as the absence of a loved one come back into play.
Contact also makes outgoing calls to senior citizens and shut-ins who request them under its "Reassurance" program, and many of those people, too, experience loneliness and loss during the holidays and the post-holiday letdown.
However, Becky Stoll, vice president of crisis and disaster management for Centerstone, a not-for-profit provider of behavioral healthcare with an office in Shelbyville, said Centerstone doesn't necessarily see an immediate holiday or post-holiday uptick in people with problems.
"I was on call the week of Christmas," she said, "and it was really kind of quiet."
That may indicate a difference between the kind of problems that prompt people to call Contact Lifeline -- where trained volunteers provide active listening and referral services -- and the kind of more serious problems that cause people to seek professional help at facilities like Centerstone.
For Centerstone, she said, mood disorders are more likely to manifest themselves in the spring. Stoll said patients may exhibit signs of hope for progress in the new year, but when spring comes and their situations haven't changed in the way they had hoped, they become despondent.
For this reason, Stoll said that now may be the time for people who have mood or behavior problems, to seek assistance. Seeking care now may help prevent a crisis later.
"Now is maybe the time for people to get attention for that," she said.
One specific condition that does manifest itself this time of year is seasonal affective disorder, or SAD, a specific condition which has been tied to shorter days and less access to sunlight. Stoll said Centerstone does see its share of SAD patients during the period from November through March.
Stowers said Contact gets about 400 calls a month from its four-county service area -- and there's an indisputable rise in the number at a certain time each month.
"Our calls always go up during a full moon," said Stowers.
Contact's crisis line for Bedford County is 684-7133. The office can be reached for administrative business at (931) 455-7150.
Centerstone's toll-free crisis line is (800) 344-8802.