The word melancholy comes from the Greek word “melancholia”, which means “black bile” and was coined in the fifth century B.C. It was termed by the physician Hippocrates, who believed that an excess of black bile, which was one of the four “humors”, was what caused melancholia in people. The symptoms under melancholia were not wanting to eat, insomnia, fear, agitation, restlessness and sadness; nearly identical to the symptoms of depression we use today. Melancholic depression is a profound and severe form of major depression, where the individual loses all pleasure and positive feelings in almost everything. This type of depression has strong biological roots, meaning that a specific event might not be needed for the onset of symptoms and much of the depression is caused by internal neurochemical processes. The treatment is primarily medications, and usually a combination of medications that work best for each individual. If you or someone you know exhibits these symptoms, it might be time to approach psychiatrist for medication:
1. Intense Feelings Of Guilt
In the different strands of depression, guilt is a very common symptom but it can be highly amplified in melancholic depression. While the feelings of guilt are usually coming from a difficult occurrence or event, they are not in congruence with the intensity of the event. Most often, the event is minor or has already been resolved, but a person continues to feel intense guilt that disrupts normal functioning. The person dwells on the event for long hours, and can punish themselves by locking themselves away or not taking part in any social events for fear of offending someone else. In some cases, the depression can take a toll on creative processes too.
2. Profound Loss Of Joy
A person with melancholic depression is not able to find joy in anything, including good events and news. He could be surrounded by positivity and everything in his life could be going really well, but he is not able to feel any pleasure. This means that he becomes really unresponsive to stimuli around him, such as not attending important occasions like birthday parties, social gatherings and other events that require any sort of social interaction. He may close himself off from everyone around him, spend hours in his room without contacting anyone and not answer any attempts to reach him. The loss of pleasure is also evident on his face, and the distress is very real and very visible.
3. Unfounded Sadness
While there is already a loss of joy in the person, it is combined with sadness that is constant but without any trigger. There is no situation that causes the sadness, but it does not dissipate even when the person understands this. The chronic sadness can be really difficult to deal with, and all attempts at trying to make it better for the person are pushed away or responded to negatively. It is like a dark cloud over the person’s head at all times that is relentless and unwavering.
4. Difficult Mornings
Falling into a routine every morning is a difficult task, and a person with melancholic depression will not make an effort to do much. Insomnia and sleep disturbances are a debilitating part of the disorder, which brings a lot of health problems, and when combined with loss of pleasure and energy, it can make it difficult to get anything done. A person may not take part in morning activities like brushing their teeth or taking a shower, which takes a toll on his personal hygiene. Moreover, activities like eating breakfast or getting ready for work are also neglected.
5. Lack Of Energy
While lack of energy is also a signature symptom in all types of depression, melancholic depression tends to make a person extremely unresponsive at times. The energy and mood levels can improve as the day goes on however, but can also alter according to the situation and the intensity of the depressive episode. A person has really low levels of energy and lack of concentration in anything they do, and cannot finish any task even if he starts it.
6. Physical Changes
Since the depression affects both the body and mind, a person will have a lot of physical changes in their body. The lack of sleep can result in pale skin, dark circles and a general tiredness on the face. There are joint and muscle aches that have no physical basis. Moreover, the changes in appetite can lead to rapid weight gain if the person finds comfort in food, or rapid weight loss if the person does not make an effort to eat. The lack of personal hygiene can also cause a person to look disheveled, and if neglected for too long, can cause conditions like bed sores because the person refuses to leave their bed.