If you know someone who is feeling sad, it may not just be an off day for them. They may have serious depression. So what exactly is depression? It's something that not everyone understands, but that doesn't make it any less real.

Symptoms of Depression:

Depression is a real thing, not just a figment of one's imagination. Symptoms of depression often include crying without always knowing the reason why, prolonged periods of sadness, losing interest in things that you used to enjoy, increased anger, feeling unmotivated and difficulties in coping with stress, even with the most mundane of things. You may feel tired and want to sleep all the time, that's common. Depression can even show up physically too, with weight loss or gain.

Serious Signs of Depression:

If someone is especially depressed and has been so for a while, he or she may start to feel suicidal. This is extremely dangerous, and these people should seek help before they hurt themselves or others. If you know someone who may be suicidal, talk to them and let them know you are there for them. If the situation is urgent, call 911 immediately; it may just save that person's life.

Treatment For Depression:

Depression can be treated so many different ways today, and that's a good thing to know that many options exist. First, depression can be treated with medication. Some of the more common antidepressants include Prozac, Zoloft, Wellbutrin, Celexa and others. Perhaps your doctor may even prescribe an anti-anxiety pill, like Xanax, for those moments when you especially cannot deal with stress. All these medications help supplement the imbalances in your brain that are causing you to feel so blue. Of course, always check with your doctor before taking any medication, as well as during and, if you stop taking it, after. Sometimes, depression medications can take weeks or months to be fully in effect, depending on the person, so do not be discouraged if you do not think it is working right away.

If you're not one for medication, other options exist, too. You can always go the natural route by increasing your vitamin intake or taking supplements like St. John's Wort. Eating a balanced, healthy diet with plenty of fruits and vegetables can help, too. One of the biggest depression aids is exercise; getting your heart pumping and your body sweating releases endorphins, which are almost like nature's natural antidepressant.

Counseling and therapy are also great ways to let out your emotions. Simply by talking to someone else can help alleviate how you're feeling. It can help you rationalize what you're feeling and help you to make better decisions in the future. A counselor is well-trained and can perhaps provide that supportive shoulder you've been searching to lean on.

When one asks what is depression, you can now confidently say you know, but most importantly, understand. It's a very real medical condition and can be treated with medication or natural alternatives. If someone is depressed, encourage them to talk to someone or seek help. Depression is not make-believe; it is a real medical condition that needs be treated.