Tim Brinton

¿Es la tristeza una enfermedad?

NUEVA YORK – La tristeza es una de las pocas emociones humanas que han sido reconocidas en todas las sociedades y en todos los tiempos. Algunas de las más antiguas epopeyas conocidas, como La Iliada y Gilgamesh, muestran la tristeza intensa de sus protagonistas después de haber perdido a compañeros cercanos. Del mismo modo, obras antropológicas de una gran variedad de sociedades describen claramente sentimientos de tristeza que se desarrollan debido a la frustración en el amor, a la humillación por parte de un rival o a la incapacidad de alcanzar objetivos culturalmente valiosos.

Incluso, los primates muestran señales fisiológicas y de conducta después de alguna pérdida que son inconfundiblemente similares a la tristeza en los humanos. No hay duda de que la evolución hizo que la gente fuera propensa a ponerse triste después de esas situaciones.

Los trastornos mentales depresivos también se han conocido desde que se llevan registros escritos. En un trabajo escrito en el siglo V a.C., Hipócrates ofreció la primera definición conocida de la melancolía (lo que ahora llamamos “depresión”) como un trastorno definido: “si el temor o la tristeza duran mucho tiempo es melancolía." Los síntomas que Hipócrates relacionó con el trastorno de la melancolía –“aversión a los alimentos, abatimiento, incapacidad para dormir, irritabilidad e inquietud”- son muy similares a los que figuran en las definiciones modernas del trastorno depresivo.

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