Do you know what depression is?

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We have all heard of it, but do people actually understand what it is? Depression.

Depression is defined as a condition of mental disturbance characterized by a severe sadness, typically with lack of energy and difficulty in maintaining concentration or interest in life. What you may learn from seeing and talking to people who have experienced this, it’s so much more than just that.

One of the most shocking things about depression is that the people around the person rarely ever realize how serious the condition is until it gets to the extremes – a mental breakdown or an attempt of suicide.

Let me point out a few words here: “mental disturbance,” “sickness,” “condition.” Depression is a serious mental illness. Serious, meaning it’s not your average feelings of sadness. Being depressed, is an extreme feeling, but people tend to overuse it causing the severity of the word – and the feeling – to diminish.

Monte Vista senior Aly Stamp has suffered from clinical depression since her diagnosis in 8th grade. After battling a lot of stress and emotions, and with the help of friends and family she has been doing her best to stay strong. Stamp has made it her goal to help other people fight similar battles, because she has made it through some of her own and wants others to know that they can too.

“Because of the little knowledge of depression, a lot of people who are standing by watching it happen, tend to put the idea of it down,” senior Aly Stamp said. “This makes it hard for someone with depression to speak out, because they are afraid of being judged.”

What many people don’t realize, is that people diagnosed with depression can feel their sadness even when everything in their life is going great. This is why people reject the seriousness of depression, because they think “but you have nothing to be upset about.”

“Depression takes some of the happiest moments in your life and flips them around,” Stamp said.

Another reason why people tend to reject depression as a mental illnesses, is that they have felt sadness before – but for them, it passes. This is why it is hard to understand the depth of the sadness people with depression feel unless you have experienced it.

It’s hard to see a close friend, family member, or just anyone you know go through something like this. Having a better understanding of this type of sickness is something that can help everyone – even though it is difficult to understand if you’ve never experienced it.

Depression is different for everyone and can originate from chemical imbalances in the brain, hormonal changes, medications, or things going on in a person’s life.

Some types of depression are genetic, whereas most are situational or cognitive. Situational depression occurs when an event in a person’s life causes them to be depressed – divorce, financial problems or the death of a loved one. Cognitive depression is caused by low self-esteem or negative thinking.

People with depression will often shut people out or isolate themselves, because they  feel as if no one will understand or care.

“That’s not the problem,” Stamp said. “The problem is that there are people who make fun of the illness, or don’t pay attention to it because they don’t think it’s a big deal. But the fact of the matter is that it is a very big deal.”

Depression can happen to anyone and is not a “normal” stage of life. If clinical depression stays around for too long it can change a person’s views of every aspect of life and can change the way they feel about certain things.

It is important for people who have any type of depression to seek help and support. Whether it be through friends and family or a doctor or counselor. Depression is an illness – not a weakness. It’s not a crime to be depressed, for whatever reason, so don’t feel guilty or be afraid to share what you are feeling or thinking.

“To people who battle depression: don’t ever be afraid to speak out and ask for help,” Stamp said. “There are people who really do care. Remember that you’re never alone even when it feels like it. I was diagnosed with clinical depression in middle school around 8th grade, and I know what it’s like to feel completely alone. If anyone needs someone to talk to, my ears are open. Stay strong.”