noun: a mental condition and especially a manic-depressive condition characterized by extreme depression, bodily complaints, and often hallucinations and delusions; broadly : a feeling of sadness and depression
“As the debates about the future shape of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), Fifth Edition, continue, a review of one of the liveliest arguments, about melancholia as a diagnostic category in its own right, appears timely.” — From an article by Paul Grof in the Canadian Journal of Psychiatry, April 2013
“While some lyrics in Brian Wilson’s handwriting are drenched in melancholia, most convey the band’s signature, sunny optimism.” — From an article in The Daily Home (Talladega, Alabama), April 20, 2013
Did you know?
Today’s word traces back to Greek “melan ” (“black, dark”) and “cholē” (“bile”). Medical practitioners once adhered to the system of humors—bodily fluids that included black bile, yellow bile, blood, and phlegm. An imbalance of these humors was thought to lead to disorders of the mind and body. One suffering from an excess of black bile (believed to be secreted by the kidneys or spleen) could become sullen and unsociable—liable to anger, irritability, brooding, and depression. Today, doctors no longer ascribe physical and mental disorders to disruptions of the four humors, but the word “melancholia” is still used in psychiatry (it is identified a “subtype” of clinical depression in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders) and as a general term for despondency.