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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 18.djvu/239

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INDIGESTION AND NERVOUS DEPRESSION.

increased, but that the quality is also improved. Perhaps for a short time after his return he is hardly in a condition to do brain-work at all. He sits down to his desk, but feels cramped in the unaccustomed posture, and he would rather work off the superabundant energy within him in a long walk or a stiff climb than restrain it with difficulty to the simple task of driving a quill. After a week or two he settles down and works steadily along with comfort and ease for a couple of months or more, when he again begins to sink below par. His apprehension is no longer so acute, his power of concentration is diminished, he can no longer fix his attention for any length of time upon one subject without a severe effort. His mental vision becomes less perspicuous, his ideas succeed each other more slowly, and find expression with greater difficulty, so that he communicates his thoughts with less fluency and less clearness than before. His temper, too, undergoes a change. Instead of regarding the daily occurrences of life with equanimity, and making the best of what can not be helped, irritation so slight as to be unfelt at other times provokes him to anger or peevishness, and even when he possesses sufficient self-control to restrain his feelings and prevent them from being manifested outwardly, to the annoyance of his friends or neighbors, the very effort of restraint seems to increase the internal irritation, until at last it either explodes in an ebullition of wrath on some comparatively trivial circumstance, or tells upon the digestion and nervous functions of the individual himself, diminishing the appetite or causing intense muscular weariness. In others, again, we find that along with or taking the place of irritability there is great mental depression. Everything is looked at from a gloomy point of view—himself, his friends, and his surroundings. He does not feel equal to his work; nothing that he does pleases him; he is apt to become distrustful of himself and jealous of others; apt to think that his friends are slighting him, or to fancy that he has offended them. Even when all external circumstances leave nothing to be desired, the unfortunate victim can not enjoy life. His mind is occupied with gloomy forebodings of miseries to come, or he becomes a prey to melancholy and depression without any apparent reason. This melancholy weighs most deeply upon him during the night, and if he happens to wake in the small hours of the morning, as he not unfrequently does, life seems not worth living, but a burden of which he would willingly be quit. Melancholy is at times associated with sleeplessness, and then the two evils react upon and increase each other. For this causeless sorrow has a similar effect to that of real sorrow. As Shakespeare says:

"Sorrow's weight doth heavier grow,
Through debt that bankrupt sleep doth sorrow owe."

At other times instead of sleeplessness there is an abnormal tendency to drowsiness, which sometimes comes on almost irresistibly at