Depression, from dazzling stars to officials and politicians, from air crash pilots to scholars and translators, is all trapped by it, and even drives their lives to a sad end.
”I don’t know why, I am so sad…” The poet Heine, who suffered from depression, began his famous poem “Lorelei” like this, vividly expressing the true feelings of depressed people. Depression is not a purely temporary psychological problem as some people think. It is a physiological disease, which is related to both genetic and environmental stimuli. It is very likely that there is no reason, and people are enveloped by a feeling of disappointment, frustration, and helplessness, which cannot be lingered. Mild patients are depressed and slow in thinking and action, while severe patients can’t even complete simple actions such as getting up and eating, and their hearts are really ashamed and their bodies are like a haggard tree.
Historically, perceptions of depression have oscillated violently between the absurd and the sublime, the sinful and the fashionable. Desperation and pain are the same in ancient and modern times, but the process of human beings’ self-knowledge is far from being accomplished overnight. A history of depression struggles is a profile of social, ideological, scientific, and cultural changes.
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Depression, also known as melancholia, was born in the West. There are also similar expressions in Chinese medicine, which are relatively general and vague “depression” and “depression syndrome”, which refer to both emotional pathogenesis caused by worry and depression, and also refer to physiological reactions such as stagnation of qi and blood. There is no shortage of “sorrowful and sick body” who “die in depression” in ancient books. Qu Yuan, Zhao Kuangyin, Li He and others were also included in the list of famous depression patients in ancient times, but the orthodox origin of depression has to be traced from the West .
The melancholy English word melancholy comes from the Greek melainachol, which means black bile. The ancient Greeks believed that personality was influenced by four humors: mucus, yellow bile, black bile, and blood, and that depression was caused by excess black bile. Black bile does not exist, of course, but in different cultures, black is indeed used to represent depression. The poet Homer called the depressed mood “the dark cloud of distress”.
At the end of the 5th century BC, Hippocrates, known as the “father of medicine”, realized that depression is caused by a mixture of internal and external factors. He dismissed the popular “spiritual therapy” of praying to heaven at that time, thinking that it was all a scam, and suggested taking datura flowers and other laxative or emetic herbal medicines to achieve the effect of rebalancing body fluids. Hippocrates also advised King Perdiccas II to marry the woman he loved as a cure for depression. However, the philosophers Socrates and Plato opposed this humoral theory, arguing that severe mental disorders belonged to the category of philosophy. Plato also proposed a growth model: a person’s childhood life will determine the adult character. His teachings have deeply influenced modern psychiatry. It has been suggested that Hippocrates is the father of Prozac, while Plato can be seen as the forerunner of psychodynamic therapy.
In the Middle Ages, when Christian thought ruled the entire society, depression was seen as a sinful disease. The famous theologian Thomas Aquinas believed that the soul would not be subject to physical illness, and that the soul is not under the jurisdiction of God but is tempted by the devil. Depressed patients, together with all mentally ill patients at that time, were considered to be condemned by God for sinning the soul, unable to fight for salvation because they did not believe in God. The modern stigma associated with depression may have grown out of this tradition. At its most extreme, melancholic patients will be treated as wizards, witches, and heretics, and will be slandered and brutally persecuted.
Whereas the Middle Ages moralized melancholy, the Renaissance romanticized it. The northern part of Europe followed the tradition to connect witchcraft with depression, while the south compared genius with depression. This source can be traced back to Aristotle. He believed that depression is not entirely a bad thing. “In philosophy, poetry, art and political eminent people”, both have melancholic qualities. The great figures born in this period seem to confirm his words. Michelangelo, Da Vinci, Newton, etc. are all melancholy geniuses. The two views of the North and the South were fiercely contested, and in the end the latter prevailed.
”Melancholy” represents the sweeping of Europe by profound, complex, even gifted ideas. Milton exclaimed in his poem “Thinking Man”: “Welcome, most holy melancholy!” The gloomy temperament began to be regarded as having depth, and the fragile character was regarded as the price paid for the deep soul. Such poses prevailed in high society—sad, taciturn, disheveled hair, lying on the sofa, gazing at the ground or at the moon, and being motionless for hours… Melancholy became a fashion, it was all the rage” aristocratic disease”. It is recorded that in the 16th century a barber complained that the book made him feel melancholy after reading Hamlet, and was condemned by everyone. “Melancholy? My God, what are you talking about, you who shaved your head are not qualified to talk about melancholy, melancholy is the badge on the arm of courtiers!” From the perspective of modern psychiatry, Hamlet is a man suffering from reactive depression. Typical character: self-loathing, loss of all interest, protracted inability to act.
The 17th century was the age of rationality in Europe, and major achievements in the fields of physiology and anatomy continued to emerge, providing a materialistic basis for people’s understanding of mental illness. Robert Burton’s “The Anatomy of Melancholy” in 1621 is a synthesis of previous research results on depression. At that time, it was popular to regard man as a machine, and the representative figure was the philosopher Descartes. Affected by it, there are also many relatively scientific explanations for depression: for example, it is believed that depression is caused by the loss of elasticity of fibers, or it is due to a decrease in blood supply to specific parts of the brain, and so on. However, in an era where rationality is paramount, depressed patients who lose their rationality will still be discriminated against and regarded as outliers who indulge themselves. The treatment of depression at the time was also full of mechanical cruelty. One school advocated using physical pain to distract attention from inner pain. It was common to drown patients or put them in strange rotating machines to make people faint and vomit.
When pure reason became too boring, romanticism began to rise, and melancholy followed suit from the end of the 18th century to the Victorian period, which was regarded as an insightful state of mind. Kant believed that “melancholy can stay away from the dust of the world”, “the virtues based on norms have a characteristic, it seems to be combined with the melancholy of the soul to achieve the highest harmony.” In the early 19th century tuberculosis was considered to have a special aesthetic and was closely connected with creativity.
In modern times, the understanding of depression mainly comes from psychoanalytic theory and psychobiology. Freud said that melancholy is a form of mourning that results from a feeling of loss of libido, appetite, or sexuality, and that “people who have lost their desire tend to be melancholy”. The founder of modern psychiatry, the German Kreppelin, divided melancholia into three types, ranging from the mildest mental lethargy to the most severe symptoms, including “dream-like delusions and hallucinations.” He analyzed that the cause of depression is mainly defective genetics, and external environmental stimuli account for a small part. These two mainstream views have brought the understanding of depression into the scientific orbit so far.
Are celebrities more prone to depression?
Many people believe that celebrities are more prone to depression. In the eyes of the public, the expansion of success and fame, and the pressure of loneliness may invisibly magnify several times. Even comedians like Robin Williams, Mr. Bean, and Jim Carrey who produce happiness cannot escape. The claws of depression. Another idea is that creative geniuses are more likely to suffer from mental illness. Balzac once said that “genius is the disease of human beings, just as pearls are the disease of shellfish”. However, there is another possibility that the depression of celebrities is more likely to be noticed by the world, while ordinary people can only silently struggle in the abyss of depression.
Depression can affect an artist’s work. Li He, a great poet of the Tang Dynasty who died of illness and premature death, was depressed all his life, which deeply affected his strange and desolate poetry style. The poems are full of images such as dead trees and rain, ruined ruins and mounds, mourning apes and crows. “Poetry Ghost”. Depressed emotions often make painters tend to choose cool and weak colors. Art historians believe that Picasso’s gloomy and cold blue period has nothing to do with his mental state at that time. Baudelaire further purified the temperament of a city in The Melancholy of Paris. But severe depression destroys the will to live. Writer Woolf stuffed his pockets with stones and sank into the Ouse River. Singer Leslie Cheung jumped from the 24th floor of a hotel in Central Hong Kong. The famous mathematician Gödel even had hallucinations, believing that the food was poisoned and refused to eat. Starve to death.
Another depressive condition is bipolar disorder, also known as bipolar disorder, which was formally defined in 1899. As the name suggests, the patient’s mood switches back and forth between mania and depression. Like riding a roller coaster, the excitement reaches the apex for a while, and may fall into the bottom of depression in a blink of an eye. Bipolar disorder is medically called bipolar disorder (depression is unipolar). Newton, Beethoven, Van Gogh, Wagner, Vivien Leigh and many other famous people suffered from this disease. When mania struck, Newton would work day and night, never hungry, and impatient to sit down to a meal. Robin Williams, who committed suicide in 2014, is a typical bipolar patient. His specialty is stand-up comedy. It is said that the stage style of live performances is almost crazy. He admits that he will become a lunatic when he goes on stage, and he will immediately close himself off when he returns to life, and he doesn’t want to talk to anyone.
There are various causes of depression. The writer Kawabata Yasunari has a miserable life experience. His parents died at the age of 2, and all his immediate blood relatives left him at the age of 14. The sorrow beyond his age, his life is full of melancholy and desolation, and he finally reached the peak of fame at the age of 73. Sometimes he committed suicide with a gas pipe. Chinese-American female writer Zhang Chunru was deeply stimulated. When she wrote the book “Nanjing Massacre”, she faced the bloody history every day. She developed from insomnia and nightmares to severe mental depression, and finally came to a dead end. Others are chasing perfection. Writer George Sand described her companion musician Chopin, “When it comes to composing music, overthinking, regretting that he can’t achieve the perfect conception, this drives him into despair. He shuts himself in the room all day and all day, Weeping, walking back and forth, breaking his pen, repeating or revising a sound a hundred times, writing and erasing…” Repeat the process the next day, “spend 6 words on a page. Week”. Speaking of music, according to some statistics, there are nearly 200 people who died after listening to the Hungarian “suicide hymn” “Melancholy Sunday”.
”Destroy him as much as you can, but you can’t beat him.” Hemingway, who wrote such a classic sentence in “The Old Man and the Sea”, put a double-barreled shotgun into his mouth in 1961 and blew up his skull. Then the writer who loves women and adventures, can’t get rid of depression in his later years, sits at his desk for hours with manuscripts, and can’t get anything done. Seven family members, including his father, younger sister, younger brother, and granddaughter, committed suicide successively. The American public named it “Hemingway’s Curse”. This common depression is likely to be related to family inheritance. Some scholars study depression as a cultural topic. Foucault mentioned in “Madness and Civilization” that depression is related to colonialism and is part of the ruling conspiracy of the colonial rulers.
How to get rid of depression?
The proportion of suicide due to depression is quite high, but in history, there are also people who struggled to maintain balance like walking on stilts throughout their lives, and finally survived the disaster. Churchill said that “depression in my heart is like a black dog, biting me at every opportunity”, but he also lived to be 91 years old. Others, like the philosopher Kierkegaard, find strange solace in suffering. His depression may be related to genetics. He once fell into an insurmountable depression. He believed that he could not enjoy the happiness of his family, so he broke off his engagement with the woman he loved and remained unmarried all his life. Kierkegaard believed that happiness would debilitate him. He wrote, “My sorrow is my castle. In my most melancholy moments, I love life because I love melancholy.
” Famous for his humorous novels, he was at the height of his writing career in 1926, with a total sales of 4.95 million anthologies. “There’s laughter in my books, but not in my heart.” He took pills to treat depression as a young man, “half a ton of pills in two years,” with little success. “Something must have happened to make me so depressed.” Zoshchenko began to analyze himself with the theories of Freud and Pavlov, recalling his childhood, and according to him, he cured himself with this method.
Another way out of melancholy is, as the historian Thomas Carlyle put it: “Labour! Do not despair!” Severe depression left Darwin “incapable of doing anything for one day in three days,” and he had no idea of his own. Disappointed by his mental weakness, he once wrote: “Survival of the fittest, perhaps I should be content to watch others make great strides in scientific research.” He mentioned the redemptive role of work countless times in his letters, calling it “the only thing that makes me still able to bear life.” Schopenhauer agrees—work serves as a distraction from the inherent melancholy. “If the world were a beautiful and comfortable paradise,” he wrote, “man would be bored to death or commit suicide.” Freud even believed that mild depression was best for work, productive and focused a certain business.
The British essayist De Quincey used opium to numb the pain of depression; Byron used opium first, then alcohol; President Lincoln of the United States once took a common drug in the 19th century, “blue block”, to treat depression, because it contained a lot of mercury, which made him nervous, irritable and irritable. After realizing this, he resolutely stopped using it before the presidential inauguration in 1861. During the Civil War, he withstood the tremendous pressure with super self-control. In the early 20th century, the only medical treatments for depression were opiates and amphetamines, which were highly addictive. “Therapies” such as electric shocks are also used, but often result in physical damage and even memory loss, and the possibility of “cure” is extremely low.
According to the research of modern biologists, depression is caused by the lack of one or more neurotransmitters in the brain. Drug development for depression has focused on increasing the concentration or activity of neurotransmitters. The first professional antidepressant drug isoniazid was born in 1952. A group of tuberculosis patients tried the newly synthesized isoniazid drug to treat their lung diseases, but found that they were inexplicably ecstatic, so Waida was being used for depression. Later, it was discontinued due to numerous side effects such as liver damage. The most famous “Prozac” came out in 1988. It was the first antidepressant approved by the FDA (Food and Drug Administration). Appropriate and similar drugs have come out one after another and are gradually accepted by people.
Entering the modern society, the pace of life is accelerated, interpersonal relationships are complicated, material pursuits are paramount, etc., all of which make stress and anxiety nowhere to hide. Depression that is difficult to dispel has become a prominent mental symptom of this era. Martin Seligman, the father of positive psychology, once made a diagnosis of depression in this era-“ego disorder”. He believes that today’s individualism is rampant, people see themselves as the center of the world, and facing failure will only become more frustrated.
Regarding the causes of depression, biologists and psychologists have been arguing endlessly. Now the theory that depression is affected by both genes and the external environment has been confirmed, but it is not certain which factor is more important, and there are still various related issues that have not been resolved. There is a conclusion. According to statistics, there are 322 million depression patients in the world, with a prevalence rate as high as 4.4%. There may be 90 million depression patients in China alone, with a prevalence rate between 3% and 5%, and even as high as 6.1% in some areas. Although people have unprecedentedly possessed a variety of weapons against depression, the prevention and recognition rate of depression is extremely low. In China, the recognition rate of depression in hospitals above prefecture-level cities is only 20%, and less than 10% have received drugs. treat. The researchers suggest that preventive treatment is required for depression, and if there are more than 3 episodes, long-term treatment or even life-long medication is necessary. Everyone should have a correct understanding of depression, actively prevent or treat it, and eliminate prejudice.