The term ‘melancholia’ is one of the oldest terms used in psychology. It has been around since Hippocrates introduced it in the fifth century B.C., and it means “black bile” in Greek. The symptoms he categorized under melancholia are nearly same to the symptoms we use today, including fear, not wanting to eat, insomnia, restlessness, agitation, and sadness. 


Melancholic depression isn’t caused by a specific traumatic event, although a traumatic event can trigger depression that may have been lying inactive. Biological factors cause this type of depression, in some cases, it may have been inherited from parents. Those with other mental disorders where psychotic symptoms are present are thought to be more susceptible to this type of depression, as well as elderly patients with dementia.


People with melancholic depression may experience symptoms of MDD, such as:

  • persistent feelings of extreme sadness for a long period of time
  • loss of interest in activities that were once enjoyable
  • having a lack of energy or feeling fatigued
  • feeling anxious or irritable
  • eating too much or too little
  • sleeping too much or too little
  • experiencing changes in body movement
  • difficulty in concentration, making decisions, and remembering things
  • thinking or talking about death or suicide
  • suicide attempt
  • loss of pleasure in all or most daily activities
  • lack of reactivity to positive news and events
  • deep feelings of despair and worthlessness
  • sleep disturbances
  • significant weight loss
  • persistent feeling of excessive or inappropriate guilt
  • symptoms of MDD are worse in the morning