This open access book maps a crucial but neglected chapter in the history of psychiatry: how was melancholia transformed in the nineteenth century from traditional melancholy madness into a modern biomedical mood disorder, paving the way for the emergence of clinical depression as a psychiatric illness in the twentieth century? At a time when the prevalence of mood disorders and antidepressant consumption are at an all-time high, the need for a comprehensive historical understanding of how modern depressive illness came into being has never been more urgent. This book addresses a significant gap in existing scholarly literature on melancholia, depression, and mood disorders by offering a contextualised and critical perspective on the history of melancholia in the first decades of psychiatry, from the 1830s until the turn of the twentieth century.
Åsa Jansson is a Junior Research Fellow at the Institute for Medical Humanities at Durham University, UK. She is a historian of psychiatry, with an interdisciplinary background encompassing intellectual history, the history of medicine and political science. She has published in leading journals in her field and beyond, and has communicated her research in other forums, including public exhibitions and festivals.