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September 18, 2002

DepressionA Call for Papers

Author Affiliations

Author Affiliation: Dr Glass is Deputy Editor, JAMA, Chicago, Ill.

JAMA. 2002;288(11):1400-1401. doi:10.1001/jama.288.11.1400

For those who have dwelt in depression's dark wood, and known its inexplicable agony, their return from the abyss is not unlike the ascent of the poet, trudging upward and upward out of hell's black depths and at last emerging into what he saw as "the shining world."—William Styron

The illness of depression, so well described by William Styron in his memoir of his own illness,1 is surely one of life's most disturbing experiences. There is a hint of it when depression occurs as a normal mood following a loss or major disappointment. But when depression occurs as an illness, the mental and physical symptoms seem to involve life turning against itself. Previously treasured activities bring no interest or pleasure, simple tasks and decisions become massive burdens, and even the very basic functions of eating and sleeping are transformed from simple satisfactions to torturous problems. Thoughts of suicide occur regularly as a manifestation of depression. If carried out, it becomes not only the ultimate life negation for the depressed individual, but a searing source of pain for surviving family and friends.

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