"My cue is villainous melancholy, with a sigh like Tom O'Bedlam." King Lear.
There was an interesting article in the Health section of the Los Angeles Times today about the relationship between yoga and depression. Apparently practicing yoga might trigger a neurotransmitter that regulates depression and anxiety disorders according to the Journal of Alternative and Complimentary Medicine.
I am prone, as Winston Churchill used to call them, to "Black Dog Days," that particularly English affliction otherwise known as melancholy. Since I have been practicing regularly I must admit to a noticeable reduction in those symptoms that have occasionally visited me. I have never been one to go down the medication path and admittedly my dark days weren't enough to incapacitate me, but things have definitely been 'lighter' in that realm the past year.
Peter Ackroyd has a chapter in his brilliant book, Albion, called, A Note on English Melancholy, as argues that it is part of the fabric of the English imagination. He explores poets and preachers, singers and performers over the centuries who have voiced their own melancholy. Robert Burton's Anatomy of Melancholy was a 17th century classic on the matter and influenced a number of seminal Englishmen from Samuel Johnson to Laurence Sterne who used a quote from the book as a key part of his wild novel, Tristam Shandy. All that to say, that melancholy can sometimes be constructive, but I am happy to be rid of it most of the time.