According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness:
"Unlike normal emotional experiences of sadness, loss, or passing mood states, depression is persistent and can significantly interfere with an individual's thoughts, behavior, mood, activity and physical health."
Common symptoms include feelings of hopelessness, excessive fatigue and sleeping (or insomnia), depressed mood, increased thoughts of death or suicide and changes in eating patterns. Simple everyday tasks appear to be impossible, resulting in a 'trapped' feeling. For more information, visit Psych Central or speak with a mental health professional.
It's important to note that it's the consistent nature of these thoughts and moods that make it a serious health concern and more than a passing emotional state. Teens are faced with a tidal wave of emotions of during adolescence and while grappling with the transition to adulthood are often vulnerable to depressive states. In our society, we throw around the phrase "I feel depressed" a lot to describe a passing emotional stage, particularly during trying times in our lives.
The common usage makes it that much harder for those who can't shake that "depressed" feeling. It can be hard to talk about. We need to understand that depression is a real experience for so many people, including myself, and we need be supported and in turn, offer our support to others.