With the passing of actor/comedian Robin Williams, a new level of attention is focused on Depression. Whereas this was previously seen as a mere psychological situation in which people had to just snap out if it, it is now gained a respectability as a bona fide medical challenge.
Clinically, depression is more than just feeling sad or depressed. Everybody has depressed moods from time to time, typically in reaction to a life event.
True psychological depression lasts at least two weeks and the subject is depressed most or all of rhe day (http://www.m.webmd.com/depression/guide/what-is-depression).
According to the DSM-5, a document the classifies symptoms that make up the diagnosis, an individual would display these signs: feelings of worthlessness, insomnia, feelings of depression and indecisiveness.
Depression is a disorder of the brain (http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/depression.html). It usually starts between ages 15-30, and may also involve thoughts of suicide. It tends to be more prevalent in women and causes may involve a variety of factors including genetics, environment and biochemical.
According to recent research in 2004 (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/m/pubmed/15380113/), psychiatric depression manifests as changes in various parts of the brain such as the amygdala, frontal lobes, hippocampal formation and basal ganglia. Researchers also identified Clinical Depression as a risk factor for developing Parkinson's Disease.
More recently, scientists have use Positron Emission Tomography (PET) scans (http://www.health.harvard.edu/newsweek/what-causes-depression.htm) to map various regions.of the brain. They have found genes, now, that may indicate a preponderance towards depression and conversely offer specific medical treatments.
Nevertheless, these same studies are showing not just one cause, but different factors that interact together. Even though two people may both show symptoms of depression, thwre may be different causes. While there are different chemicals involved, depression is more more likely brought on by a combination of things from environmental and situational factors to a variety of chemical imbalances both inside and outside the nervous system.
This, of course leads to the obvious question of if not cure, then at least management of symptoms so that the individual can lead a productive and fulfilling life.
Of course there are medications. There is a class of anti-depressants that improve mood by enhancing the ability of the brain to increase the amount of neurotransmitters in the synapses of the brain's nervous system. This allows the brain to communicate with itself better and improve efficiency and thus mood.
There are some natural ways to help depression as well.
One if the best ways is exercise (http://www.m.webmd.com/depression/features/natural-treatments?page=2). Exercise releases endorphins, which are natural pain relievers similar in make up to narcotics. They help the person feel relaxed, elevates their mood, and gives them what as become know as a "runner'a high".
Also important are eating healthy, getting enough sleep, and being organized in doing daily tasks.
Another natural technique that can help depression is Transcendental Meditation (http://www.tm.org/benefits-depression-adult#q03). This is an ancient practice that has been studied extensively and research shows that it has been effective in alleviating the effects of depression.
As Depression gains in awareness, more and more attention is being directed at helping people who suffer from its effects. If you or someone you know suffers from this illness, remember that as you would for a broken bone or cancer, seek medical treatment and explore some natural ways to manage it as well