- Abraham Lincoln
Abraham Lincoln's struggles with "melancholy" are well documented by his contemporaries. He told an early colleague, who found him funny and sociable, that whenever he was alone, his "hypos" would overcome him to such an extent that he never dared carry a pocketknife, out of fear that he would kill himself.
John Quincy Adams, the sixth president and son of John Adams, the second president, discussed his depression at length in his diaries. He said his parents had put unreasonable expectations on him. Many of John Adam's contemporaries, particularly his friends from school, describe him in ways that are consistent with clinical depression. Health and personality in those days were thought to be linked to various bodily fluids; his friend described how his studies "corrupted" his "blood and juices."
It is impossible to diagnose the presidents with any real validity, but various historians suspect between ten and fifteen presidents suffered from depression at significant points in their lives. That is a whopping 20 to 35%, and includes Jefferson, Madison, Wilson, Coolidge, and Eisenhower.
All too many teenagers view depression as a sign of weakness. They would do well to notice that many of our greatest leaders struggled with depression, and perhaps, as is thought about Lincoln, look at it as a potential source of wisdom.