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Is Depression a Modern or Premodern Illness

Depression is it a modern day illness?

Looking back through history there a very few documented cases of depression. Through there were many cases of other mental health issues. Depression only seems to be documented amongst a certain class of people. The wealthy, however these were only mild cases explained away with the patient having a case of boredom. Alternatively, lacks of better explanations were termed to be people with not enough to keep their minds active.

Most cases were documented to women, whom had servants, nannies, and cooks. Thus, leaving them feeling they were of no importance. There were cases documented to men as well but these were even fewer than that a women; these cases only seemed to occur in men that did not work or maintain any influential position in life. Very few cases were ever documented in the people, which were classed to live in poverty. They having the lack of money to afford medical help can explain this. Therefore, medical professionals could not attend this class of people.

In modern day society, documentation of depression has been significantly increasing. However, these are not linked to class, race, age, or gender. It seems to be a wide spread illness. I find myself wondering is it linked to our modern lifestyles.

We seem to be working longer hours, having less time to spend relaxing. Therefore, I rule out the element of boredom. Which leaves me wondering could it be our repetitive lifestyles? Alternatively, long hours spent in work that we find mundane; could that be the cause of depression?

As our modern day work ethics have change and become easier with the help of machinery and computers.

Case Study:

Pre modernism Farmer.

A farmer in 1855 worked from before sunrise until long past sunset. With only a horse and plow to ready fields for planting. Milking cows by hand and many other daily tasks that needed to be completed. His day never seemed to end. Often the labor was hard and adjures. The farmer never seemed to have an hour to relax until the end of his day. Harvest was done by hand and scythe then carted by horse and cart to its final destination. There was not a day of the year that the farmer did not need to work.

Case Study:

Modern Farmer.

A modern farmer has machinery designed to be driven making his job easier. Even though the farmer still works from sunrise to sunset the work is not as back breaking as it used to be. The modern day farmer has equipment to help make the work easier; milking is no longer done by hand. In addition, produce does not have to be carted by horse and cart, hence cutting down on hours spent away from the farm transporting their goods. Harvest is now done in half the time of the pre modernism farmer, transporting the grains and crops no longer takes many weeks, with the use of trucks and modern storage facilities.


However, for both of the farmers there are still the effects of natural disasters. Hereby looking at the fact neither pre modern or modern farmer should be more likely to suffer a bought of depression. Although there are many documented cases of modern farmers suffering from depression. Possibly the pre modern farmer was less likely to suffer depression as they lived in smaller communities and people were more supportive of their fellow man.

The facts on the issue of pre modern and modern farmer prove little in the argument of whether depression is a modern illness; it is just there are not enough documented cases from the pre modern era to prove otherwise.

Looking at all the facts and information I have been present the pre modernism person was no more likely or less likely to suffer depression than the modern person was. It is just less documented in the pre modern era. Depression in the pre modern era was less likely to be treated, as there was not the medical knowledge as there is in the modern era.

In the modern era, it is expected that more than half of the worlds population will present with some form of mental illness. I conclude that mental illness is neither pre modern nor a modern illness it is just documented more in the modern era.

It is now also more socially acceptable to have a mental illness than in the pre modern society. Whereas pre modern society mental illness was to be hidden in institutions and horrible, experimentation was practiced to try to cure the illness, which is now treated successfully in many cases with medication.

Resource used:

Reading materials available at any mental health campus
Bi polar disorders
Mental health overview
Anxiety and how it affects mental health
Overview of depression