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October 2021

[Historical notes on the therapy of depression]

Journal/Book: Schweiz Med Wochenschr. 1986; 116: 1652-9.

Abstract: Melancholy originally had another meaning from the present one. Only since the last century has melancholy taken on the meaning of severe depression. The Arabs were the first to introduce special wards for the mentally ill in their hospitals in the 8th and 9th centuries. In the West, mental wards in general hospitals have been known since the 13th century only. In the Renaissance dietary measures played an important part in the treatment of depression. Lean meat, fresh eggs, freshwater fish and particularly grapes were recommended. In the 17th and 18th centuries music therapy against depression came back into favour after being used in ancient times. In the 19th century opium was recommended and held its ground well into the middle of our century. Various methods and drugs were recommended and used for the therapy of depression in the 19th century, such as baths and massage, ferrous iodide, arsenic, ergot, strophantin, and cinchona. Actual antidepressants have been known only for approximately 30 years. The classic papers concerning therapy with lithium salts date back to the years 1948/49. It is a little known fact, however, that lithium salts had been used as prophylactic treatment against periodic depression 50 years earlier.

Keyword(s): Depression/history/therapy. Depressive Disorder/history/therapy. English Abstract. History of Medicine, Ancient. History of Medicine, Medieval. History of Medicine, 16th Cent.. History of Medicine, 17th Cent.. History of Medicine, 18th Cent.. History of Medicine, 19th Cent.. History of Medicine, 20th Cent.. Human. Hydrotherapy/history. Music Therapy/history. Narcotherapy/history. Nomenclature. Psychotherapy/history. Schizophrenia, Paranoid/history/therapy

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