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Who Discovered Depression?

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Early writings and plays have highlighted a type of disturbed and unstable mental state characterized by despondency and fear. Such kind of mental states could have definitely meant something of what we call as depression. Hippocrates had also mentioned about this sort of mental state. He described something called melancholia characterized by fears and despondencies. We have early records of depression reported even around 200 AD.

First doctor to discover a treatment

The first psychiatrist to discover depression and administer a definite process of treatment to it was Dr. John Cade. He employed lithium in the treatment of depression. Instances are available in ancient Greek civilization when people attempting to understand depression.

Dr. John Frederick Joseph CadeDr. John Frederick Joseph Cade was born on January 18th, 1912.

In the beginning, it was called melancholia

During early times, depression was called as melancholia. Ancient Greece talked of melancholia as caused by the black bile. During the early 20th century, Emil Kraepelin, a German psychiatrist talked about the different types of melancholic states as depression, bringing in a new way of understanding this illness. The word “depression” comes from the Latin verb “deprimere”, meaning pressing down. Emil Kraepelin also played a role in understand schizophrenia.

Proper diagnosis of mental disorder

The American Psychiatric Association has published an encyclopedia of criteria meant for diagnosing mental disorders known as “The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders” or DSM. The first two editions of this book published in the year 1952 didn’t talk about major depressive disorder (MDD). In the revised edition of this book, Robert Spitzer who chaired DSM’s second revision and his team said the earlier versions of DSM didn’t have the specificity and uniformity required to interpret depression and introduced new set of diagnostic criteria for depression.

Recent classification of depression

A thorough definition of depression and its various classifications are systematically presented for the first time in a paper published in 2005 by Alan M. Gruenberg, Reed D. Goldstein and Harold Alan Pincus. They explained that DSM featured a particular criterion to discuss a major depression episode including the distinction between depressive disorders and bipolar disorders. They removed the earlier edition’s depressive reaction and neurotic depression.

New criteria to diagnosis depression

The most recent edition of DSM (DSM-IV) has introduced a list of five criteria meant for diagnosing depression (MDD). The first of these five criteria says, the patient reported to have depression should have not less than five symptoms out of nine over a two week observation period. These criteria include feeling a sense of sadness or emptiness over most part of a day, total lack of interest in any activity, sleeping too much or not sleeping at all, reporting troubles in taking decisions.