Depression is a real illness. I believe that people downplay the seriousness of depression. Depression gets pushed to the side as a feeling or the result of a bad situation. While this is true of a depressing mood, it is not depression. It is a real illness, not just a "bad day." It is not just something that will go away on its own. You do not "choose" to be depressed. Depression, as an illness, is called major or clinical depression. Here are some surprising and interesting facts about clinical depression.

1. 6.2 million people in the United States struggle with clinical depression.

2. Two-thirds of people with depression do not seek the appropriate treatment.

3. Depression is a result of a chemical imbalance in the brain.

4. Due to the chemical imbalance, depression literally changes how a person thinks. A person’s thinking is distorted, which can lead to thoughts of suicide.

5. Depression makes a person selfish and makes it easy to get caught up in a self-pity party.

6. Depression is expressed as anxiety 65 percent of the time. As a result, the depression is treated as anxiety, and therefore, not correctly handled.

7. People with clinical depression have been proven to have a weakened immune system. So these people are more susceptible to getting colds and the flu.

8. Clinical depression is one of the leading causes for people to miss work and file for disability in the United States.

9. Women are twice as likely to become clinically depressed than men. It is believed this is true because of the constant hormone changes due to menstruation.

10. People with depression are four times as likely to have a heart attack than those with other illnesses. They are have a higher mortality rate due to the heart attack risk. Even more, these people are also more likely to have a second heart attack, if they survive the first.

11. Depression is unique in that it cannot be linked to a certain race, gender, or age.

12. Eighty percent of clinically depressed people who seek out and follow treatment, see significant improvement and a better quality of life.

13. While depression cannot be pinned to a certain race, gender, or age, it has been shown to have a genetic factor. If a close relative (first-generation relative) has clinical depression, you are two times more likely to suffer from depression.

14. It has been proven that clinical depression is linked to a loss of bone density.

15. Exercise is the cheapest and easiest treatment for clinical depression. Just a 20-minute walk can have a significant impact.

If you do struggle with clinical depression, I hope that these facts will help shed some light on what people with the illness are going through. Also, if you have depression, I hope this lets you know that you are not alone, and you can get help. While you do not choose to be depressed or suffer with depression, you can choose to deal with it and manage it. If you need help with your depression, please talk to someone.