Meaning of melancholy

What is melancholy:

Melancholy is a feeling characterized by a state of deep sadness, which is manifested in individuals as discouragement, despondency and apathy towards things and towards life.

Melancholy, in this sense, supposes a tendency towards sad and pessimistic thoughts, a permanent feeling of handicap and a constant fixation on one's own deficiencies, as well as the loss of interest in emotional affairs.

Melancholy is born for various reasons: because we are not happy with ourselves, because we feel dissatisfied in life, because we believe that we need things that we cannot obtain. Hence, melancholy has an implicit non-acceptance of our present and a propensity to detract from our achievements.

The word melancholy, as such, comes from Latin melancholy, and this in turn from the Greek μελαγχολία (melancholía), which means 'black bile' or 'atrabilis'. This name has its origin in the theory of the four humors, conceived by the ancient Greeks to explain the origin of diseases and changes of temperament in individuals.

Thus, depending on the major influence of one of the bodily fluids in a person's body, individuals could be classified as sanguine (blood), phlegmatic (phlegm), choleric (yellow bile) and melancholic (black bile). In this sense, it was black bile that, in people, caused the sad, dejected and listless behavior that characterizes melancholic individuals.

Melancholy in Psychology

In the field of psychology, what was formerly known as melancholy, today is called depression. In this sense, it is characterized by a state of acute sadness, a deep feeling of pessimism and great discouragement and loss of interest in life in general.

As such, the psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud, in his work Grief and melancholy, considered that, from the moment in which melancholy was permanently installed in an individual, it was transformed into a pathology, since it prevented the normal development of their daily activities, hindering their life at a social, work and productive level. Hence, today it is treated as a disease and the use of antidepressant drugs is called for for its treatment.

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