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This word is closely connected both with the doctrine of the humours and with the prevalence of malaria. It is fully discussed in Malaria and Greek History, pp. 98-101. Generally it means our "melancholia," but sometimes merely "biliousness." In popular speech μελαγχολία and its cognates sometimes approximate in meaning to "nervous breakdown." Probably the name was given to any condition resembling the prostration, physical and mental, produced by malaria, one form of which (the quartan) was supposed to be caused by "black bile" (μέλαινα χολή).

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