©Wellcome Library, London

The caption to this cartoon illustrating ‘nervous depression' reads, ‘It's very well to go down for 6 weeks into the country by yourself, to give up tobacco and stimulants, and to live the whole day, so to speak, in open air; but all this will do you no good ... cultivate a cheerful frame of mind and take a lively view of things.' By the mid-19th century, depression was listed as a ‘functional neurosis' which meant that it was an affection ‘peculiar to the nervous system' without any obvious structural change. In other words, it was ‘all in the mind' but scientists, as yet, had little idea of what went on in the mind.

Wood engraving from Punch, 1 May 1869.