Depression is not a choice. Rather, it is a true medical condition like high blood pressure or heart disease. In the United States alone, more than 17 million people suffer from depression with women being twice as likely as men to suffer from the disease. Depresion crosses racial and socioeconomic lines. Anyone can suffer from it, and those that do are not "crazy" or "weak". They have a serious yet highly treatable disease.
A specific cause of depression has not been pinpointed yet. Most doctors think that depression is caused by a chemical imbalance in the brain which can be genetic, environmental or triggered by traumatic life events. What is known is that a shortage of chemical messengers, called neurotransmitters, in the brain can predispose a person to depression. These neurotransmitters are called serotonin and norepinephrene. They control moods.
The symptoms of depression include prolonged sadness for at least two weeks, lack of energy, changes in sleep and/or eating patterns and even thoughts of suicide and death.
Deppression can be treated with medication and/or counseling. A combination of the two seems to work best for most depression sufferers. A variety of alternative and complementary treatments can also provide relief for depressed individuals. Regular exercise, the avoidance of caffeine, alcohol, and illegal drugs, sufficient rest and stress management techniques are also recommended for those struggling with this disease.