Let there be no doubt that depression is a serious mental illness that sometimes requires months and years of treatment on the road to a cure.  Hippocrates referred to depression as melancholia, which literally means black bile. Black bile, along with blood, phlegm, and yellow bile were the four humors (fluids) that described the basic medical physiology theory of that time. Depression, also referred to as clinical depression, has been portrayed in literature and the arts for hundreds of years, but what do we mean today when we refer to a depressive disorder? In the 19th century, depression was seen as an inherited weakness of temperament. In the first half of the 20th century, Freud linked the development of depression to guilt and conflict. John Cheever, the author and a modern sufferer of depressive disorder, wrote of conflict and experiences with his parents as influencing his development of depression.

Each year, millions of people come to the realization that they suffer from depression.  To make things worse it is estimated that only a third of those who suffer the disease will ever seek treatment.  Because depression is considered a mental affliction, many sufferers shy away from seeking help from a doctor.  Instead of being considered mentally ill, people try to manage the problem themselves.  Depression is more common- place than you might think and it will not go away on its own.

Depression has no single cause; often, it results from a combination of things. You may have no idea why depression has struck you.

Whatever its cause, depression is not just a state of mind. It is related to physical changes in the brain, and connected to an imbalance of a type of chemical that carries signals in your brain and nerves. These chemicals are called neurotransmitters.

Some of the more common factors involved in depression are:

* Family history. Genetics play an important part in depression. It can run in families for generations.

* Trauma and stress. Things like financial problems, the breakup of a relationship, or the death of a loved one can bring on depression. You can become depressed after changes in your life, like starting a new job, graduating from school, or getting married.

* Pessimistic personality. People who have low self-esteem and a negative outlook are at higher risk of becoming depressed. These traits may actually be caused by low-level depression (called dysthymia).

* Physical conditions. Serious medical conditions like heart disease, cancer, and HIV can contribute to depression, partly because of the physical weakness and stress they bring on. Depression can make medical conditions worse, since it weakens the immune system and can make pain harder to bear. In some cases, depression can be caused by medications used to treat medical conditions.

* Other psychological disorders. Anxiety disorders, eating disorders, schizophrenia, and (especially) substance abuse often appear along with depression.
Why do people get depression?  The answer can get very complicated because you have to take many factors into consideration.  The list is quite long. Let’s list a few of the contributing factors to depression.  A chemical imbalance is widely considered to be the main cause for depression.  Why does this chemical problem in the brain happen?  Typically the causes stem from biological, genetic, physical, mental and environmental implications.  In many cases the underlying cause is never identified.  Depression often follows diagnosis of other medical conditions, particularly those that result in imminent death or are chronic.

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