Whether the lingering effects of Superstorm Sandy or recent and devastating incidents of violence are weighing on their minds, some New Jerseyans are struggling to find happiness during this celebratory time of year.

Mental Health
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But how do you know when those feelings of sadness cross the line into mental illness?

Studies indicate that one out of four New Jersey residents suffers from a mental illness, such as depression or anxiety, which can be exacerbated during the holiday season.

"For many people, they're struggling with some of these disparities between the perfect Norman Rockwell painting of the family being happy and together and everything being perfect, and what their everyday reality is," said Debra Wentz, chief executive officer of the New Jersey Association of Mental Health and Addiction Agencies Inc. "Everyone can have a down day and can feel a little blue at times, but when symptoms of helplessness, hopelessness, worthlessness and life having no meaning last two weeks or more, or seem very acute before that time, then it is likely time to seek professional help."

See the following National Institute of Mental Health links for symptoms of:

Wentz said anyone can get the "holiday blues," especially if they are feeling highly stressed or emotionally taxed.

"For coping with disappointments and tragedies, it always helps to have trusted friends or family members or, if needed, a professional to confide in and work through the feelings that could interfere with life in general, not just enjoyment of the holidays," Wentz said. "The intensified impact of stress can be lessened by making time for ourselves, setting realistic financial and other expectations for the holidays, and trying to create and share special family memories."

For more information, visit njamhaa.org.

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