A generation ago, depression was viewed as an unwanted guest: a gloomy presence that might appear in the wake of a loss or a grave disappointment and was slow to find the door. The people it haunted could acknowledge the poor company - I've been a little depressed since my father died - without worrying that they had become chronically ill.
Today, the condition has been recast in the medical literature as a darker, more permanent figure, a monster in the basement poised to overtake the psyche. For decades, researchers have debated the various types of depression, from mild to severe to "endogenous", a rare, near-paralysing despair.
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