Mental Health

25 Legendary Depression Quotes

Legendary quotes about depression Posted On
Posted By Alex Perez - Mental Health Writer, B.A.

Once again, it is the third Monday of January, Blue Monday: claimed to be the most depressive day of the year.

There is no better time of the year to have a quick look at some of the most legendary depression quotes.


Being depressed is not something new. As a matter of fact, in 2.000 B.C., Mesopotamian texts already mentioned depression as melancholia. Back then, they believed that demons caused this mental state.

In the fifth century B.C., the Greek physician Hippocrates associated melancholia or depression with a physical imbalance. A few centuries later, the Roman philosopher Cicero described the psychological causes of depression.

But we had to wait until 1621 for a book called “Anatomy of Melancholy,” published by Robert Burton. This book outlined the psychological and social causes of depression and recommended, amongst other things, diet, music therapy, and exercise as a treatment against melancholy or depression.

The term depression came into use only in the 19th century and replaced melancholia as a diagnosis. All those years of describing this mental condition left us with numerous quotes about depression from prominent members of our recent history.


Today I selected a few depression quotes from all over the world and placed them in chronological order to understand this condition better.

We’ll travel from the nineteenth century until the present, from Japan to the United States, all the way through India, Russia, Europe, and Canada. Let’s begin:


Quotes about depression Poe
Edgar Allan Poe

1818         “I am in that temper that if I were underwater, I would scarcely kick to come to the top.”

John Keats, English poet. Letters to Benjamin Bailey (Monday, May 26th, 1818)

1843   “In addition to my other numerous acquaintances, I have one more intimate confidant… My depression is the most faithful mistress I have known — no wonder, then, that I return the love.”

Søren Kierkegaard, Danish philosopher, and poet.Either/Or

1849         “I have absolutely no pleasure in the stimulants in which I sometimes so madly indulge. It has not been in the pursuit of pleasure that I have periled life and reputation and reason. It has been the desperate attempt to escape from torturing memories, from a sense of insupportable loneliness and a dread of some strange impending doom.”

Edgar Allan Poe, American poet and writer. This sentence comes out of a letter he wrote in the last year of his life

1851         “So far gone am I in the dark side of earth, that its other side, the theoretic bright one, seems but uncertain twilight to me.”

Herman Melville, American novelist. Moby-Dick or the Whale

1856         “Leon was weary of loving without any result; moreover he was beginning to feel that depression caused by the repetition of the same kind of life, when no interest inspires and no hope sustains it. He was so bored with Yonville and its inhabitants, that the sight of certain persons, of certain houses, irritated him beyond endurance; and the chemist, good fellow though he was, was becoming absolutely unbearable to him. Yet the prospect of a new condition of life frightened as much as it seduced him.”

Gustave Flaubert, French novelist. Madame Bovary

1860-1861          “There have been occasions in my later life (I suppose in most lives) when I have felt for a time as if a thick curtain had fallen on all interest in romance, to shut me out from anything save dull endurance.”

Charles Dickens, British writer. Great Expectations

1865         “Winter in the soul is by no means a comfortable season: but there is this comfort, namely, that the Lord makes it.”

Charles Haddon Spurgeon, English pastor, and author. Morning and Evening

1877          “Perhaps it was because a terrible anguish had developed within my soul, occasioned by a circumstance which loomed infinitely larger than my own self: to be precise, it was the dawning conviction that in the world at large, nothing mattered. I had had a presentiment of this for a good long time, but complete conviction came swiftly during this last year. All of a sudden, I realized that it would not matter to me whether the world existed or whether there was nothing at all anywhere. I began to intuit and sense with all my being, that there was nothing around me.”

Fyodor Dostoevsky, Russian novelist and journalist. The Dream of a Ridiculous Man

1878 “As for his look, it was a natural cheerfulness striving against depression without, and not quite succeeding. The look suggested isolation, but it revealed something more. As Usual with bright natures, the deity that lies ignominiously chained within an ephemeral human carcass shone out of him like a ray.”

Thomas Hardy, English novelist and poet. The Return of the Native


Quotes about depression Anne Frank
Annelies Marie Frank

1904 “I began to understand that suffering and disappointments and melancholy are there not to vex us or cheapen us or deprive us of our dignity but to mature and transfigure us.”

Hermann Hesse, German-Swiss novelist. In 1946 he won the Nobel Prize in Literature. Peter Camenzind

1923         “In your winter you deny your spring,”

Kahlil Gibran, Lebanese – American poet, writer, and artist. The Prophet

1934         “The sadness of the world has different ways of getting to people, but it seems to succeed almost every time.”

Louis-Ferdinand Céline, French novelist. Journey to the End of the Night

1940         “Mental pain is less dramatic than physical pain, but it is more common and also more hard to bear. The frequent attempt to conceal mental pain increases the burden: it is easier to say “My tooth is aching” than to say “My heart is broken.”

Clive Staples Lewis, British writer and theologian. The Problem of Pain

1942-1944          “At such times Daddy, Mummy and Margot leave me cold. I wander from one room to another, downstairs and up again, feeling like a songbird whose wings have been clipped and who is hurling himself in utter darkness against the bars of his cage. “Go outside, laugh, and take a breath of fresh air,” a voice cries within me, but I don’t even feel a response anymore; I go and lie on the divan and sleep, to make the time pass more quickly, and the stillness and terrible fear, because there is no way of killing them.”

Anne Frank, Dutch – German diarist, and Holocaust victim        

1946         “Everything at the moment, my dear, no doubt seems disgusting. I know the mood too well. But being in that mood, Ross, is like being out in the frost. If we do not keep on the move we shall perish.”

Winston Graham, English novelist. Demelza

1948         “I wonder if I have ever actually been happy. People have told me, really more times than I can remember, ever since I was a small boy, how lucky I was, but I have always felt as if I were suffering in hell. It has seemed to me in fact that those who called me lucky were incomparably more fortunate than I.”

Osamu Dazai, Japanese author. No Longer Human (1958, English translation)

1958         “It’s a recession when your neighbor loses his job; it’s a depression when you lose yours”

Harry S. Truman, 33rd president of the US. In The Observer (British Newspaper), April 13, 1958

1959         “Find meaning. Distinguish melancholy from sadness. Go out for a walk. It doesn’t have to be a romantic walk in the park, spring at its most spectacular moment, flowers and smells and outstanding poetical imagery smoothly transferring you into another world. It doesn’t have to be a walk during which you’ll have multiple life epiphanies and discover meanings no other brain ever managed to encounter. Do not be afraid of spending quality time by yourself. Find meaning or don’t find meaning but ‘steal’ some time and give it freely and exclusively to your own self. Opt for privacy and solitude. That doesn’t make you antisocial or cause you to reject the rest of the world. But you need to breathe. And you need to be.”

Albert Camus, French author and philosopher. In 1957 he won the Nobel Prize in Literature. Notebooks III March 1951- December 1959 (published in 1989)

1969         “No matter what happens, or how bad it seems today, life does go on, and it will be better tomorrow”

Maya Angelou, American poet and civil rights activist. I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings

1989         “It seems to me that our lives are consumed by countless wasting years, but only a few shining moments. I missed mine. Yes is what I should have said. Of course I should have said yes.”

Mordecai Richler, Canadian writer. Solomon Gursky Was Here

1990         “For those who have dwelt in depression’s dark wood, and known its inexplicable agony, their return from the abyss is not unlike the ascent of the poet, trudging upward and upward out of hell’s black depths and at last emerging into what he saw as “the shining world.” There, whoever has been restored to health has almost always been restored to the capacity for serenity and joy, and this may be indemnity enough for having endured the despair beyond despair.

E quindi uscimmo a riveder le stelle. And so we came forth, and once again beheld the stars.”

William Styron, American writer. Darkness Visible: A Memoire of Madness

1994      “I was so scared to give up depression, fearing that somehow the worst part of me was actually all of me.”

Elizabeth Wurtzel, American writer and journalist. Prozac Nation

1994-1995         “How can I put this? There’s a king of gap between what I think is real and what’s really real. I get this feeling like some kind of little something-or-other is there, somewhere inside me… like a burglar is in the house, hiding in a wardrobe… and it comes out every once in a while and messes up whatever order or logic I’ve established for myself. The way a magnet can make a machine go crazy.”

Haruki Murakami, Japanese writer. The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle (published in English in 1997)


Quotes about depression José Saramago
José Saramago

2004         ” When supper time approached, he went into the kitchen, opened the fridge, but found nothing that he fancied eating. His wife had prepared something for him, she wouldn’t let him go hungry, but the effort of setting the table, heating up the food and then washing the dishes seemed to him tonight a superhuman one. He left the house and went to a restaurant. When he had sat down at a table and while he was waiting for his food to come, he phoned his wife. How’s work, he asked her, Oh, not too bad, how about you, Oh, I’m fine, just a bit anxious, Well, in the current situation, I hardly need ask you why, No, it’s more than that, a kind of inner shudder, a shadow, a bad omen.”

José Saramago, Portuguese writer and 1998 Nobel Prize in Literature. Seeing

2016         Depression is a reality with everyone. What’s important is the ability to move on.”

Pawan Mishra, Indian writer. Coinman: An Untold Conspiracy


One thing is certain, depression is an awful condition, but it has been at the root of some of the most beautiful and profound passages in literature.

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