Fr. Placid speaks on the nature of Melancholy: “In the Jane Austen novel ‘Persuasion’, Anne Elliot is introduced as having lost her bloom and suffering from being “depressed”. During the course of the book, as she come back into contact with Captain Wentworth, the mood around her gradually shifts away from a somber one to a hopeful one as misunderstandings are cleared away between the two of them.
Anne was most likely suffering the effects of what the Desert Fathers called melancholy, i.e. the toxic thought of sadness. This malady often occurs when one is angered or frustrated by not being able to obtain a much desired object or goal. By not processing the anger, it “depresses” the person and they usually withdraw from others, lose hope regarding their future, and generally lose sight spiritually.
The way forward is to do what Anne actually did and not avoid others. Also to look toward the future in hope and especially to dwell on the essential thing of life such as the ultimate goal of being loved by God and others in this life and in the next."