Physician’s Notes on a Depressed Patient

Hippocrates, Epidemics 7

“Bouts of depression and a longing for death afflicted Parmeniskos before too; but he was in turns touched by a sense of elation. Once, in Olynthos during the Autumn, he went to bed without a voice and rested, not even trying to begin speaking for some time. At other times, he spoke a bit, but then again went silent.

Sleep overcame him but then he would be awake, turning repeatedly in silence and delirium. His hand would go to his hypochondria as if he were in pain. Sometimes he would turn away and lie very still. He had a continuous fever but was breathing easily. He said afterwards that he knew who the people who entered were.

Sometimes, he would refuse the water they offered for a whole day and night; at other times, he would grab the pitcher and drink it all. He had urine as thick as a mule’s. But he was better by the 14th day.”

Παρμενίσκῳ καὶ πρότερον ἐνέπιπτον ἀθυμίαι καὶ ἵμερος ἀπαλλαγῆς βίου, ὁτὲ δὲ πάλιν εὐθυμίη. ἐν Ὀλύνθῳ δέ ποτε φθινοπώρου ἄφωνος κατέκειτο ἡσυχίην ἔχων, βραχύ τι ὅσον ἄρχεσθαι ἐπιχειρέων προσειπεῖν· ἤδη δέ τι καὶ διελέχθη, καὶ πάλιν ἄφωνος. ὕπνοι ἐνῆσαν, ὁτὲ δὲ ἀγρυπνίη, καὶ ῥιπτασμὸς μετὰ σιγῆς, καὶ ἀλυσμός, καὶ χεὶρ πρὸς ὑποχόνδρια ὡς ὀδυνωμένῳ· ὁτὲ δὲ ἀποστραφεὶς ἔκειτο ἡσυχίην ἄγων. ὁ πυρετὸς δὲ διατέλεος, καὶ εὔπνοος· ἔφη δὲ ὕστερον ἐπιγινώσκειν τοὺς ἐσιόντας· πιεῖν ὁτὲ μὲν ἡμέρης ὅλης καὶ νυκτὸς διδόντων, οὐκ ἤθελεν, ὁτὲ δὲ ἐξαίφνης τὸν στάμνον ἁρπάσας τοῦ ὕδατος ἐξέπιεν· οὖρον παχὺ ὡς ὑποζυγίου. περὶ δὲ τὴν τεσσαρεσκαίδεκα ἀνῆκεν.

A doctor examines a patient's urine in an illustration from the 13th century. Uroscopy, the study of urine, was one of the medieval physician's most effective tools, and is still employed today. (Photo by Bridgman Art Library)

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