The Birth and Growth of Major Depression
What is this confusing, ambivalent, yet encompassing “depression” that Robert Burton attempted to dissect in 1621 and that William Styron tried to shed light on some 350 years later? Depression is a ubiquitous emotion that transcends objective description and confounds us today as it did 300 years ago. It is the prototypic men tal malady because it is so prevalent and because virtually all of us intuit the phe nomenon despite our inability to describe it easily. Therefore, the language of the poet and novelist, not the scientist, might best capture the experience.