Depression is an illness that affects over seventeen million Americans each year. Just feeling sad or down doesn't mean that someone is depressed, but when the mood lasts more than a week or two, it may be depression. Depression can affect anyone of any age, race, or economic group; however, women are twice as likely to be diagnosed with it as men. Approximately twenty-five percent of all women and only twelve percent of all men suffer from depression at some point in their life. This may possibly be linked to female hormones.

There are many different forms of depression. Clinical depression simply means the depression is severe enough to require treatment. Another type of depression is seasonal affective disorder, or SAD. This is when clinical depression follows a seasonal pattern, affecting people in the fall or winter and leaving in spring. It is apparently caused by a decreased amount of sunlight that is available in the winter as a result of the days becoming shorter.

Ten million Americans are inflicted with SAD. Dysthymia is another form of depression that gives a person a low mood that is milder and has fewer symptoms than clinical depression, but it lasts at least a year or two. Only three percent of Americans are affected by dysthymia. Bipolar disorder, or manic depression, is characterized by mood swings from major depression, to the opposite known as mania with normal periods in between. Mania can be recognized by a person seeming unusually happy, silly, or irritable. They may have a great burst of energy and go with little or no sleep for days. They talk too much or too fast and their attention jumps constantly from one thing to another.

Symptoms of depression are many, such as feelings of worthlessness, feeling sad most...