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What had been drapetomania became depression. ... Modern man runs away from a life that seems to him a kind of slavery. ~ Thomas Szasz
The melancholic errs by turning against his own ego all the critical energies that ought to be directed outward against the powers of the status quo. ... The ideal subject under capitalism is melancholic. ~ Mladek and Edmondson
A low serotonin level . . . can dry up the wellsprings of life’s happiness, withering a person’s interest in his existence and increasing the risk of depression and suicide.
Ronald Kutulak

Depression is a state of low mood and aversion to activity.


  • As a confirmed melancholic, I can testify that the best and maybe only antidote for melancholia is action. However, like most melancholics, I suffer also from sloth.
    • Edward Abbey, A Voice Crying in the Wilderness (Vox Clamantis in Deserto) (1990)
  • Depression is known to be caused by a deficit of certain neurochemicals or neurotransmitters, especially norepinephrine and serotonin.
    • Daniel Amen, Change Your Brain, Change Your Life, (1998), p. 48
  • None are so desolate but something dear,
    Dearer than self, possesses or possess'd
    A thought, and claims the homage of a tear.
  • Depression is seductive: it offends and teases, frightens you and draws you in, tempting you with its promise of sweet oblivion, then overwhelming you with a nearly sexual power, squirming past your defenses, dissolving your will, invading the tired spirit so utterly that it becomes difficult to recall that you ever lived without it...or to imagine that you might live that way again. With all the guile of Satan himself, depression persuades you that its invasion was all your own idea, that you wanted it all along. It fogs the part of the brain that reasons, that knows right and wrong. It captures you with its warm, guilty, hateful pleasures, and, worst of all, it becomes familiar. All at once, you find yourself in thrall to the very thing that most terrifies you. Your work slides, your friendships slide, your marriage slides, but you scarcely notice: to be depressed is to be half in love with disaster.
  • Desolate—Life is so dreary and desolate—
    Women and men in the crowd meet and mingle,
    Yet with itself every soul standeth single,
    Deep out of sympathy moaning its moan—
    Holding and having its brief exultation—
    Making its lonesome and low lamentation—
    Fighting its terrible conflicts alone.
    • Alice Cary, Life; reported in Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations (1922), p. 189
  • I am cross and depressed, and people bore me with their excessive attentions. I can't breathe, I can't work; I feel alone, alone, alone, although I am surrounded. There are a whole lot of ladies, 70 to 80 year-old lords, but no young folk: they are all out shooting. One can't get out of doors because it has been raining and blowing for several days.
  • The term clinical depression finds its way into too many conversations these days. One has a sense that a catastrophe has occurred in the psychic landscape.
    • Leonard Cohen, as quoted in The International Herald Tribune (4 November 1988)
  • My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit;
a broken and contrite heart
you, God, will not despise.
  • In the last decade, neuroscience and psychiatric research has begun to unlock the brain’s secrets. We now know that mental illnesses – such as depression or schizophrenia – are not “moral weaknesses” or “imagined” but real diseases caused by abnormalities of brain structure and imbalances of chemicals in the brain.
    • Richard Harding (President of the APA), "Unlocking the Brain’s Secrets", Family Circle magazine (20 November 2001), p 62
  • That terrible mood of depression of whether it’s any good or not is what is known as The Artist’s Reward.
  • In addition to my other numerous acquaintances, I have one more intimate confidant. ... My depression is the most faithful mistress I have known—no wonder, then, that I return the love.
  • Enough has been said about the light-mindedness of the age; it is high time, I think, to say a little about its depression. … The egotistical depression naturally fears on its own account and, like all depression, is self-indulgent in enjoyment. … Sympathetic depression is more distressing and also somewhat more noble; it fears itself for the sake of the other.
  • Sometimes, my heart hurts so much, I beat it with my fists. I try to run. But you cannot run away from this. You cannot run from it. Wherever you run, it waits for you. Even when you think you have escaped it, it is there, where you have run to. It waits for you, to ambush you. It is like those vines called lianas, those tropical creepers that grow around you and strangle you. You cut off one branch, but there is another that grows. You leap over the wall of one ghetto and find yourself in another ghetto.
    • Klaus Kinski, as quoted in "Klaus Kinski & The Thing" by Marcelle Clements, in Playboy (November 1985), Vol. 32, Iss. 11, pg. 84-86 + 178-190
  • Although previously the monoamine systems were considered to be responsible for the development of major depressive disorder (MDD), the available evidence to date does not support a direct causal relationship with MDD. There is no simple direct correlation of serotonin or norepinephrine levels in the brain and mood. In other words, after a half-century of research, the chemical-imbalance hypothesis as promulgated by the drug companies that manufacture SSRIs and other antidepressants is not only without clear and consistent support, but has been disproved by experimental evidence.
  • A low serotonin level . . . can dry up the wellsprings of life’s happiness, withering a person’s interest in his existence and increasing the risk of depression and suicide.
    • Ronald Kutulak, in his book Inside the Brain; cited in Awake! magazine (22 October 2001)
  • …the way nerves talk to each other, and communicate, is through the secretion of a chemical called a neurotransmitter, which stimulates the circuit to be activated. And when this regulation of chemical neurotransmission is disturbed, you have the alterations in the functions that those brain areas are supposed to, to mediate. So in a condition like depression, or mania, which occurs in bipolar disorder, you have a disturbance in the neurochemistry in the part of the brain that regulates emotion.
    • Jeffrey Lieberman, Causes of Depression, University Hospital of Columbia and Cornell (19 June 2012)
  • No one is so accursed by fate,
    No one so utterly desolate,
    But some heart, though unknown,
    Responds unto his own.
  • Abomination of desolation.
    • Matthew, XXIV 15; Mark, XIII. 14
  • Depression is the inability to construct a future.
    • Rollo May, in "Love and Will" (1969), Ch. 9
  • The melancholic errs by turning against his own ego all the critical energies that ought to be directed outward against the powers of the status quo. ... Encouraged to draw all of his aggressions inward, away from the true source of discontent, the compliant melancholic sets up a superegoic agency harboring the ego’s own former rage against the object. ... Introjection becomes a form of deflected critique. Meanwhile, the berated and debased ego, busy with its own internal insufficiencies and thoroughly discouraged from political activism, is not only fully censured but also is fashioned into a willing, productive—if ultimately impotent—participant in society. ... The ideal subject under capitalism is melancholic.
    • Klaus Mladek and George Edmondson, “A Politics of Melancholia,” in Leftist Ontology (2009), edited by Carsten Strathausen, p. 209
  • Can you help me remember how to smile
    Make it somehow all seem worthwhile
    How on earth did I get so jaded
    Life's mystery seems so faded
    I can go where no one else can go
    I know what no one else knows
    Here I am just drownin' in the rain
    With a ticket for a runaway train
  • People here [in Congress] often think of depression as being sad; no matter what I tell other legislators, they don't know. They don't understand how it is emptiness, how it is a vast nothing.
  • I am so sick and tired of everyone with their complaints about PTSD, depression. Everyone wants their hand held, and a check – a government check. What are you, the only generation that had PTSD? The only generation that's depressed? I'm sick of it. I can't take the celebration of weakness and depression. See, I was raised a little differently. I was raised to fight weakness. I was raised to fight pain. I was raised to fight depression. Not to give into it. Not to cave into it and cry like a little baby in bed. "Boo-hoo-hoo. Boo-hoo-hoo." Everyone has depression in their life. Everyone has sickness and sadness and disease. And loss of relatives. And loss of career. Everyone has depression in their life.
  • Depression is melancholy minus its charms—the animation, the fits.
  • In the nineteenth century, ... official Western medicine recognized drapetomania, the tendency of slaves to run away from their owners, as a disease. ... With hindsight, drapetomania is easily dismissed as a harmful fabrication of fictitious disease, in a culture violating human rights. Less easy is it to recognize harmful fabrications of our own era for what they are.
Are you sure that medicine and psychiatry are on the right track, morally and scientifically, in providing millions of person with drugs after having diagnosed them as depressed?
  • More serious depression, or depression that is quickly getting worse, should be treated with medication. Antidepressants are not “uppers” and they have no effect on normal mood. They restore brain chemistry to normal.
    • Nada L. Stotland, (President of the APA), About Depression in Women, Op.Cit., p. 65
  • What had been drapetomania became depression. ... Modern man runs away from a life that seems to him a kind of slavery.
    • Thomas Szasz, "The Sane Slave: Social Control and Legal Psychiatry," American Criminal Law Review, vol. 10 (1971), p. 346
  • … the best thing for being sad… is to learn something.
    • T. H. White, The Sword in the Stone (1963), Merlin, to Arthur
  • In a strange way, I had fallen in love with my depression. I loved it because it was all I had. I thought depression was the part of my character that made me worthwhile. I thought so little of myself, felt that I had such scant offerings to give to the world, that the one thing that justified my existence at all was my pain.

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