Why Christmas Is A Sad, Lonely Burden For Many

Christmas is nearly upon us and while it may be the favourite time of the year for many, it's one of the hardest times for many others.

Over three million Australians are likely to contact a charity for help with basic necessities such as food, power, or other bills this Christmas, new Salvation Army research has revealed.

The research -- commissioned through Roy Morgan as part of The Salvation Army Christmas Appeal-- indicated one in four Australian adults experienced anxiety, three million experienced depression and two million experienced social isolation when thinking back to last Christmas.

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“Hardship and loneliness hits hardest during the Christmas period," said Major Bruce Harmer, of the Salvation Army.

"Across the country there are literally millions of Australians needing support."

The study of 1042 respondents found more than 30 percent feel obligated to spend more than they can afford at Christmas.

The Salvation Army will serve more than 100,000 meals and distribute around 500,000 gifts and toys over Christmas. Image: AAP

Harmer said typically 300,000 people will reach out to the Salvation Army for support during Christmas, which is the organisation's busiest time of year.

“We see hardship at The Salvation Army on a daily basis, but these results are surprising and suggest the real picture of poverty in Australia is worse than previously thought," Hamer said.

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The Salvos aren't the only ones putting the call out to communities to look out for those doing it tough.

(Image: Getty)

Lifeline, the nation's 24/7 crisis support line, says over 28,000 people will make a call over Christmas for help.

There will be some 250 volunteers tending to Lifeline phones and messaging services on Christmas Day.

READ MORE: Why 'No' Is The Most Important Word You Can Say This Christmas

The stresses of Christmas not only affect mental health and hip pockets -- but heart health too.

A study published in British Medical Journal this week found Christmas was the peak time for heart attacks in Sweden.

Researchers studied more than 200,000 heart attacks between 1998 and 2013, pinpointing 10pm on Christmas Eve -- the main day of Swedish festivities -- as the time when heart attacks are most likely.

Compared with days in the two weeks before and after the holiday, the risk of heart attack was 15 per cent higher on Christmas Day and 37 percent higher on Christmas Eve.

The study looked at a number of potential triggers for heart attacks and found experiences of anxiety, stress, grief or anger are more likely during holiday periods.

If you need help in a crisis, call Kids Helpline on 1800 55 1800 or Lifeline on 13 11 14. For further information about depression contact beyondblue on 1300 22 4636 or talk to your GP, local health professional or someone you trust.