Depression is a complex disease that seems to be more common than ever nowadays. In an effort to destigmatize this disease, we have unfortunately created a counter problem in which more and more people are claiming to have depression, maybe because they don’t fully understand what it is that they are saying. That’s fine, and that’s why I’m writing this. Hopefully if you read this you will have a better understanding. It’s normal to feel sad, down, or just not like yourself, especially when something stressful is going on in your life. It’s normal to feel stressed. It’s when the stressful events pass, but your symptoms don’t, that there may be a problem.

Now I am NOT a psychologist, yet, but this is what I am going to school for. This is what I’ve learned so far, and hopefully it helps. After years of research, we still don’t know exactly what causes depression. This is most likely because of the complexity of the disease. Abuse (mental, physical, or sexual), death, major life events, illness, and genetics can all play a role. Ultimately, I believe it comes down to the chemistry of our brain. When stressful events in life happens that we are not able to fully cope with, it can literally alter the way your brain processes information. It can kill nerves.

When it comes to genetics, there are a ton of different theories as well. Serotonin, a type of chemical messenger that helps to stabilize mood, is usually lower in a person who suffers from depression. This can decrease “communication” across your brain when it comes to processing your emotions. This is why people who are depressed can’t just “cheer up”. This isn’t made-up. It’s science. It has also been found that people with depression produce more cortisol, which is a type of stress hormone.

Like I said, we all get “depressed”. We all feel sad sometimes. It’s normal, and if we didn’t then that would be a whole other cause for concern. But please remember that there is a difference between sadness and clinical depression. If you’re sadness lasts more than two weeks and is beginning to interfere with day-to-day life, you may be suffering from depression. I am not a psychologist yet, so I cannot say this is my professional opinion, but if you think you may be suffering from depression, please just talk to someone. A friend, spouse, or even a therapist. Take control before you’re not in control.

Note: Other symptoms of depression include loss of interest, irritability, trouble sleeping or excessive sleep, social isolation, weight gain or loss, and mental “numbness”. Like I said, if you or someone you know may be depressed, please seek help. You are not alone.