The holiday season is upon us and while it may be a joyous occasion for most, the celebration, good cheer and festivities can lead to anxiety and melancholy for some. But, how do you know when the typical holiday doldrums become clinical depression?

"If you're no longer enjoying what you normally enjoy, if you're withdrawing socially or notice a change in appetite and sleep patterns, or if you start drinking alcohol or using drugs in excess, you could be suffering from depression," said Shauna Moses, Associate Executive Director of the New Jersey Association of Mental Health and Addiction Agencies. "If those feelings last for an extended period of time, it may be time to seek medical attention."

"It's common for financial troubles, unemployment or the loss of a loved one to intensify feelings of sadness during the holidays," said Moses. "But, those feelings can very easily turn into depression even if you may not necessarily be prone to the illness."

Self-awareness is key. "Depression needs to be recognized and accepted as a real illness, just like any physical disease," said Moses. "If you start to have chronic fatigue or whatever symptoms associate with high blood pressure or flu or diabetes, you go to a doctor and take care of it. It's the same thing for a mental illness or addiction. It's just as real."

"If you notice that a family member is suffering with many of these symptoms, it's best to get treatment sooner rather than later," said Moses. "Even if you aren't sure, encourage treatment. People with depressive symptoms may be able to tie it to a tangible reason like the death of a loved one. But grief can last a long time and any help would be beneficial."