How many times have you heard a friend whine “I'm SO depressed” because something did not turn out exactly the way they had hoped? And how many of those times have they bounced back to normal by the end of the day?

Depressed is not something you can “be” for a couple hours after you get discouraging news.

As a society, we have yet to grasp the difference between depression and disappointment.

Depression is an illness, and it needs to be treated and regarded as that. But by constantly misusing the term, we belittle the effects the actual disorder can have on a life.

Although there is a horrible stigma associated with any mental health issue, depression is just as much of a sickness as diabetes or cancer. Just as a diabetic must take injections of insulin to stay healthy, people with depression need to take medication as well.

It's important to realize that in most cases, chronic depression is a result of chemical imbalances in the brain. Specifically, the neurotransmitters dealing with serotonin, norepinephrine, and dopamine – hormones which regulate emotions, the body's reaction to stress, and the drive for pleasure – are not working properly.

But how do you know when your sadness is a result of the chemical imbalance which causes diagnosable depression, and when it is a simple passing situation?

If a person experiences 5 or more of these symptoms for a period longer than 2 weeks, they may be clinically diagnosed with depression.

Is your sadness a result of a chemical imbalance in your brain?

Check yourself against the following symptoms of depression:

  • Have you experienced a sudden loss of energy?
  • Do you feel as though you have no control over your emotions?
  • Have you been sleeping significantly more than usual? Alternately, have you been experiencing the effects of insomnia?
  • Have you experienced sudden gain gain or loss?
  • Have you had any suicidal thoughts?
  • Do you have any aches or pains that you do not know the cause of?
  • Have you been feeling guilty all of a sudden?
  • Are you more nervous than usual?
  • Do you lack the ability to focus or concentrate on simple tasks?
  • Have you lost interest in things that used to excite you?
  • Are you easily irritated?

If you have been experiencing 5 or more of those symptoms for longer than 2 weeks, talk to your doctor about the possibility of diagnosing and treating your depression.

Whether or not you answered yes to 5 of the above, it's important that you realize the prevalence of depression in society today. A surprising 10% of the population has a mood disorder – the most common of which is depression.

Depression is a devastating mood disorder that has the potential to ruin day after day of your life. If there was a solution to this gripping problem, would not you want to learn about it?

Instead of suffering with your mood disorder, it's time to learn how you can live with it.