Most people diagnosed with depression today aren’t depressed, according to Edward Shorter, a historian of psychiatry, in his latest book How Everyone Became Depressed: The Rise and Fall of the Nervous Breakdown.
Specifically, about 1 in 5 Americans will receive a diagnosis of major depression in their lifetime. But Shorter believes that the term major depression doesn’t capture the symptoms most of these individuals have. “Nervous illness,” however, does.
“The nervous patients of yesteryear are the depressives of today,” he writes.
And these individuals aren’t particularly sad. Rather, their symptoms fall into these five domains, according to Shorter: nervous exhaustion; mild depression; mild anxiety; somatic symptoms, such as chronic pain or insomnia; and obsessive thinking.