Members in the Media
From: The Atlantic

Why Depression Needs a New Definition

The Atlantic: 

In his Aphorisms, Hippocrates defined melancholia, an early understanding of depression, as a state of “fears and despondencies, if they last a long time.” It was caused, he believed, by an excess of bile in the body (the word “melancholia” is ancient Greek for “black bile”).

Ever since then, doctors have struggled to create a more precise and accurate definition of the illness that still isn’t well understood. In the 1920s, the German psychiatrist Kurt Schneider argued that depression could be divided into two separate conditions, each requiring a different form of treatment: depression that resulted from changes in mood, which he called “endogenous depression,” and depression resulting from reactions to outside events, or “reactive depression.” His theory was challenged in 1926, when the British psychologist Edward Mapother argued in the British Medical Journal that there was no evidence for two distinct types of depression, and that the apparent differences between depression patients were just differences in the severity of the condition.

Part of the problem, said Scott Monroe, a professor of psychology at the University of Notre Dame, is that in medical parlance, depression is considered a syndrome rather than a disease. (While a disease is a specific condition characterized by a common underlying cause and consistent physical traits, a syndrome is a collection of signs and symptoms known to frequently appear together, but without a single known cause.) In a paper published in June in the journal Current Directions in Psychological Science, Monroe called for scientists to begin defining depression with more precision. “It is in this vague and imprecise realm that problems can arise,” he wrote, “and vague insights based on imperfect similarities and differences eventually may prove to be clear oversights.”

Read the whole story: The Atlantic

More of our Members in the Media >


But other research, see SL Beilock, has shown that many of the very people that go into teaching have high levels of “math anxiety.” And we know they are the ones helping students learn math.

APS regularly opens certain online articles for discussion on our website. Effective February 2021, you must be a logged-in APS member to post comments. By posting a comment, you agree to our Community Guidelines and the display of your profile information, including your name and affiliation. Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations present in article comments are those of the writers and do not necessarily reflect the views of APS or the article’s author. For more information, please see our Community Guidelines.

Please login with your APS account to comment.