We all feel down from time to time.  This is normal when it relates directly to events that occur in normal day to day life.  These types of feelings will pass naturally within hours to a couple days.  Feeling down occasionally helps us appreciate the good times. 

The illness categorized as Depression interferes with one’s daily activities.  It makes it difficult to sleep, eat, and work normally.  People suffering from depression may withdraw from loved ones and lose interest in things that used to give them pleasure.  They may even entertain thoughts of doing themselves harm.  Depression affects not only the person suffering from the illness, but their loved ones as well.

A few of the classic symptoms of depression are sadness that won’t go away, pessimism, feelings of hopelessness, irritability, fatigue, loss of interest in usual activities, difficulty sleeping and eating, overeating, suicidal thoughts, and memory problems.  There are many possible symptoms of depression and different categories of the illness.  If you suspect that you or a loved one suffers from the illness, it is important that you seek help.

The first thing to do is see your doctor.  There are certain illnesses and medications that can cause symptoms of depression.  It is important to rule out these other causes first.  After the examination your doctor may refer you to a mental health professional.  It is important to follow your doctor’s instructions as failure to seek help can lead to serious consequences down the road such as alcohol and drug abuse.  Never self-medicate as this is a temporary solution that will only exacerbate your problems in the long run.

Depression is usually caused by a variety of contributing factors; genetic, psychological, biochemical, and environmental.  It may be caused by the diagnosis of an illness, the loss of a loved one, or an imbalance of chemicals in your brain.  Depression can also develop as a part of other disorders such as GAD or PTSD.  There are many different causes as well as solutions in treating the illness.

Your doctor may prescribe medication to help combat the illness.  Psychotherapy will likely be part of the treatment as well.  Psychotherapy can help tremendously in seeking out the root cause of the disorder and therefore alleviating its symptoms.  Psychotherapy can also help pinpoint possible unhealthy belief systems, thoughts, and habits that may be contributing to the disorder.

Depression tends to affect women more than men.  This is especially true after the birth of a new child.  Postpartum depression can develop in women with newborns.  This is a serious condition that requires the help of a medical professional.  Men also suffer from depression and are more likely to deal with it in unhealthy ways such as turning to drugs and alcohol.

If you suffer from depression seek medical help.  Stay active and force yourself to do things that used to make you happy.  Surround yourself with friends and loved ones that will provide a supportive, positive environment.  Begin an exercise program.  Exercising increases blood flow and oxygen to the brain.  It also promotes the release of chemicals in the brain such as serotonin which can improve your overall mood (Please seek your doctor’s advice before starting a new exercise program).  Whatever you do, please seek help.  You don't need to suffer alone.