Depression is a general, broad statement used to describe a mood. There are many kinds of depression such as post partum, menopausal, manic/bipolar, clinical, seasonal affective disorder (SAD), cyclothymia and dysthymia. Clinical depression is one of the most common types of depression and is very treatable yet many people still suffer from clinical depression because they don't recognize the symptoms. Most people think it's just a time of sadness and that it will pass; real depression is when a person can't function, but these assumptions are incorrect. Clinical depression is not diagnosed by the severity of the symptoms, only if the symptoms exist in the patient at all. CLINICAL DEPRESSION CAN HAPPEN TO ANYONE, REGARDLESS OF AGE, SEX, OR RACE.

Sometimes, clinical depression has multiple causes, a single cause or even no cause at all. Some examples of causes are biological (too much or too little of a brain chemicals called "neurotransmitters"), cognitive (having low self-esteem, being pessimistic, feeling without control in their lives), genetic (although depression can occur in people who have no family history of depression), situational (loss of a loved one, financial problems, divorce), co-occurring (occurring along with other medical problems such as heart disease, strokes, Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, diabetes), and medications (some medications can actually cause depression). A short checklist is used to determine whether or not someone exhibits signs of having clinical depression. Once again, it is not the severity of the symptoms, just whether or not the patient displays these symptoms at all.
  1. Feelings of sadness and/or irratibility.
  2. Loss of interest in activies or pleasures once enjoyed.
  3. Gain/loss of weight.
  4. Change in appetite.
  5. Changes in sleeping pattern (e.g. insomnia, too much sleeping).
  6. Feelings of guilt.
  7. Inability to concentrate, make decisions, or remember things.
  8. Fatigue or loss of energy.
  9. Restlessness or decreased activity.
  10. Feelings of hopelessness or worthlessness.
  11. Feelings or thoughts of suicide.

Treatment for clinical depression can include antidepressants, psychotherapy or both. There are many different types of antidepressants: SSRIs (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors), TCAs (block both norepinephrine and serotonin, but have a higher toxicity rate), SNRIs (serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors - designed to effect both seratonin and norepinephrine, it mainly effects serotonin unless taken in higher dosages which correlates with an increase in side effects), and NaSSAs (norepinephrine and specific serotonin antidepressants - these do not inhibit neurotransmitter reuptake although their net result is increasing norepinephrine and serotonin; these block certain serotonin receptors).

On a related sidenote, I was diagnosed with clinical depression about six months ago. I had most if not all of the symptoms listed above. It was one of the worst periods in my life. I had had it for about two years, but my clinical depression was due to multiple causes: genetics (mother's side), situations (broken up with an ex, had just moved to college away from my family and friends), biological (imbalance of neurotransmitters) and cognitive (coming out of Christian high school being a closeted lesbian doesn't help your self-esteem any). I was always irritable, I would sleep for 14 hours on end and then take a two hour nap later on in the day, I skipped classes, holed myself up in my dorm, watching movies by myself, my appetite was far from normal and I had absolutely no energy to see my friends or even answer their calls. Thank god, the university has a free psychiatric counseling service. I was diagnosed, put on Celexa then Effexor and am now feeling like I can live a normal life.

Most people think depression is something you can control. "Oh she'll snap out of it." At least that's what my mother thought, but it's not. Trust me, I've tried. I would've given up my soul to not sit there in front of the window just staring at the moon feeling like my insides were being scraped away. It already felt like I had lost my soul anyway, why not give it up?

I don't think taking a pill brings happiness, but in cases where your brain goes hay-wire and decides to stop acting like it should, you don't have a choice. It's not your fault; it's not anybody's fault. Some people are born with weak joints, some people have little pigmentation in their skin and for some of us...the chemicals in our brain aren't balanced.