Melancholia in its early stage, or slighter form, is an ailment which appears to be very common at the present time. The stress and strain of modern life, the increasing worries which higher civilisation entails, cause much mental depression amongst those who find life difficult and strenuous. Depression, also, is a prominent symptom in indigestion or gastritis, and many people complain of it after influenza, especially when this disease attacks the nervous system. Such mental symptoms may signify a commencing neurasthenia, or they may be due simply to a poisoned blood condition, such as is found in liver disorder and indigestion. Whatever the cause, the wise plan is to deal with the matter at once. Mental depression is at least evidence that the health is seriously out of order. The ordinary healthy man or woman does not get depressed unless under the influence of recent trouble. The mental depression which has nothing of this sort to account for it, which persists in spite of quite comfortable circumstances and happy environment, requires medical treatment. The fatal mistake which many people of the neurotic type are apt to make is to rely upon faith-healing or the quack doctor. Drugs or alcohol must also be avoided for the relief of depression.
The first thing is to find out any physical cause, such as dyspepsia, constipation, impaired nutrition or neurasthenia, and have it treated immediately. That is why a doctor is required. Mind treatment also will be called for, while a great deal can be done by self-suggestion to overcome a tendency to melancholy. The cultivation of the optimistic spirit is necessary for everyone of us if we are to keep healthy in mind.
Melancholia proper, associated with mental disorder, requires attention by the physician. Such symptoms as hopelessness, sleeplessness, and inability to work are not to be neglected. Overwork and a sedentary life contribute largely to this condition, which often arises after middle life as a result of stress and strain. Rest and change of environment, with new interests, and attention to diet and general health, will generally set the condition right.
Meningitis, which is sometimes called " brain fever," is an inflammation of the membranes covering the brain or spinal cord, and frequently attacks children. It is often tubercular in origin - that is, due to the tubercle bacillus, the same microbe which causes consumption of the lungs. The child appears listless and ill for a day or two, and is suddenly attacked with headache, vomiting, and other symptoms of head mischief. This is a very serious disease, to which the doctor must be summoned as quickly as possible. The only domestic treatment which can be tried is to put the patient quietly to bed in a dark room, and apply cold water cloths to the head.
Mental Defect is too big a question to deal with amongst common ailments. The article on " The Backward Child " (page 1944, Vol. 3,) treats the subject in simple fashion, but mental defect is a more serious condition, and requires professional advice. If parents are at all suspicious of a child being mentally defective, they should attend to the matter at once. A great deal can be done by proper education and healthy environment to improve the condition of these children, especially in the slighter cases of mental defect. In some instances parents may observe unusual stupidity, some moral obliquity, or undue nervous and excitable conditions in a child, and such signs, although they do not in themselves point to mental defect, are never to be neglected. As a rule, such children require special teaching, because of the great difficulty in fixing their attention. In all cases the advice of the family physician should be sought early, as, if treatment is delayed for a year or two, the child's future mental and physical health is jeopardised. Under proper care and training, good results in many cases can be anticipated.
Migraine. (See "Headache," page 1591, Vol. 3.)
Moles of various kinds are found in the skin. A mole may simply be a smooth, coloured spot like a large freckle, which, under certain conditions and suitable situations, is considered a beauty spot. Another type of mole is raised and sometimes covered with hairs. Then there are vascular moles, which are purplish red in colour, due to increase of blood vessels at that part. These, if tampered with, are apt to bleed a good deal. Sometimes they increase in size. A port wine mark consists of a dilation of the small blood vessels of that particular area of skin.
Moles should never be treated domestically by chemicals or other so-called " cures." Unless they are distinct blemishes, they are much better left alone. But when their removal is desired, the most satisfactory course is to get a surgeon to treat them by electrolysis or excision. Self-treatment by chemicals is apt to set up irritation, and rarely proves efficient. The smaller moles, which arise in connection with acne and other skin affections, should be treated by thoroughly washing twice daily with soap and water and applying ointment.
Morphia Habit. Notice must be given to this subject, because it is often associated with other forms of drugging, and because the habit is so easily established, and so terribly serious once it is formed. It is said to be increasing of late years, and it is perhaps unnecessary to state that no woman should ever, under any circumstances, take morphia or opium unless directly ordered by her doctor. The great danger is that, when the drug is taken to alleviate pain, the habit is difficult to give up, even when the reason for its continuance no longer exists, and the pain is cured. Almost inevitably larger doses have to be taken, and gradually the character becomes altered, even more than is the case in alcoholism. The moral and mental powers are gradually affected, the health is undermined and deteriorates rapidly. The victim to morphia is a pitiable object, and once she has sunk to a certain level, cure is exceedingly difficult, and sometimes impossible. The only hope is for the patient to put herself under the care of a doctor, and be prepared to obey and follow out his treatment in every particular.