Depression or depressive feelings can affect adolescents, young adults and adults.  This illness is caused by a combination of genetic, biological, environmental and psychological factors.  Research studies suggest that depression is a brain disorder.  Chemicals used in the brain for communication are out of balance. Depression affects about 1 in 10 adults, and women are affected more than men.  

It is normal to have the "blues" or have the 'blahs".  Everyday ups and downs are normal as well.  However, if the "low" feelings and "down" mood lasts for 2 weeks or more, the condition may be depression and it is important to seek professional help.

Here is one person's story that describes what depression is like.  This personal story can also be found on the National Institute of Mental Health's website.

"It was really hard to get out of bed in the morning.  I just wanted to hide under the covers and not talk to anyone.  I didn't feel much like eating and I lost a lot of weight.  Nothing seemed fun anymore.  I was tired all the time, and I wasn't sleeping well at night.  But I knew I had to keep going because I've got kids and a job.  It just felt so impossible, like nothing was going to change or get better."

Some symptoms of depression are lack of pleasure, feelings of worthlessness, being overly sensitive and feeling trapped. Additionally, an increase or decrease in weight, a change in sleep patterns, fatique and lack of concentration are other common symptoms.

Depression is a treatable illness.  For instance, therapy will help regain feelings of pleasure and worthiness.  It will also help individuals feel empowered.  

If you are feeling depressed, tell a trustworthy friend or relative and seek out a mental health practitioner.