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  • Charles Dickens on Random Historical Figures Who Struggled With Depression

    (#10) Charles Dickens

    • Dec. at 58 (1812-1870)

    Famed author Charles Dickens suffered from suffered from bipolar disorder - then known as manic depression. It's said that whenever the Tale of Two Cities author began a new project, he slid into a new bout of depression. His mood only increased the closer he got to finishing.

    Many believe that his depression also contributed to him leaving his wife - and mother to their 10 children - for an 18-year-old actress named Nelly Ternan.

  • Edvard Munch on Random Historical Figures Who Struggled With Depression

    (#9) Edvard Munch

    • Dec. at 81 (1863-1944)

    Edvard Munch, known for his famous painting The Scream, battled anxiety, depression, and alcoholism. His mother and one sister both died of tuberculosis while another sister was mentally ill. Munch left Norway at 22 and moved to Paris. He struggled in his  – sometimes violent – relationships with women.  He drew on his feelings to make his Expressionist art, some of which centered on death. 

    He wrote in his diary about the inspiration for The Scream

    I was walking along the street with two friends – the sun was going down – I felt a touch of melancholy. Suddenly the color of the sky changed to blood red. I stopped walking and leaned against a fence feeling tired to death – I saw the flaming clouds like bloodstained swords – the blue-black fjord and the city – my friends went on walking – I stood there trembling with fear – and I felt how a long unending scream was going through the whole of nature.

    He later acknowledged that his mental anguish helped fuel his art.

  • Isaac Newton on Random Historical Figures Who Struggled With Depression

    (#7) Isaac Newton

    • Dec. at 84 (1643-1727)

    Sir Isaac Newton had a nervous breakdown in 1693, although it's unclear whether it was mental illness or a result of his experimentation with mercury. He reportedly tasted his experiments in over 100 instances, though many dismissed the theory that he had mercury poisoning because the symptoms did not fit.

    According to one scholar, Newton did exhibit several symptoms of depression, including insomnia, withdrawal from close friends, loss of appetite, and the belief that his friends were against him. Other experts think Newton suffered from manic depression. His childhood has also been noted as a possible contributor to his fragile mental state. His father died when he was three months old, and his mother left him from ages three to 11. After Newton recovered from his breakdown, he gave up his science career and became Warden, and then Master, of the Mint.

  • Emily Dickinson on Random Historical Figures Who Struggled With Depression

    (#1) Emily Dickinson

    • Dec. at 56 (1830-1886)

    Many scholars have long believed poet Emily Dickinson suffered from some kind of mood disorder. Some think she may have been manic depressive, while others think she suffered from Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD).

    Dickinson's mood appeared to shift depending on the season. Professor emeritus of psychiatry at the University of Hawaii School of Medicine in Honolulu John F. McDermott examined her productivity and determined she was more prolific in spring and summer compared to winter, suggesting she had the winter blues. 

    A person diagnosed with SAD is affected by the amount of sunlight available each day. How did Dickinson's mood affect her work? She produced 1,800 poems, many of which focused on death and immortality. 

  • Georgia O'Keeffe on Random Historical Figures Who Struggled With Depression

    (#6) Georgia O'Keeffe

    • Dec. at 99 (1887-1986)

    In the late 1920s, Georgia O'Keeffe's self-esteem plummeted when she found out her husband cheated on her with a much younger woman. She was briefly hospitalized for depression but over time fought off anxiety and insomnia. O'Keeffe described her awakening in a letter to her husband, writing, "I am not sick anymore. Everything in me begins to move."

    She channeled her energy into her work and used the Southwest for inspiration. She moved to New Mexico and created mesmerizing landscapes following her short stint at a mental health facility.

  • Franz Kafka on Random Historical Figures Who Struggled With Depression

    (#5) Franz Kafka

    • Dec. at 41 (1883-1924)

    Franz Kafka is most known for his story Metamorphosis. He was a very intelligent man who spent much of his time alone due to social anxiety. He also battled depression. It's speculated that he became depressed after a bout with tuberculosis. He was reportedly a hypochondriac who had migraines, boils, and insomnia brought on by the stress of his writing. Kafka's father was verbally abusive, and his fiancee eventually left him because she had a difficult time dealing with his moodiness. Writing and exercise, such as swimming and hiking, helped lift his spirits.

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About This Tool

The real suffering of depression patients did not attract more attention at first. The media and the public only wake up when celebrities suffer from depression or end their lives. Facts have proved that a prosperous life cannot appease the loneliness and panic of depression patients. On the contrary, depression tends to attack the most ambitious and creative people. Historical celebrities Newton, Darwin, Lincoln, etc. have all suffered from depression.

A lot of great historical figures have achieved glorious achievements, and at the same time, they tried their best to hide the pain and struggle of depression. Many people struggled with depression and ended their lives in tragic desperation. The random tool lists 10 historical figures who had depression.

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