1920’s depression treatment: lots of milk and lots of nothing

I’m currently reading “English Food: A People’s History” by Diane Purkiss. I thought this passage on Virginia Woolf’s depression treatment interesting:

Virginia Woolf, on the other hand, was in the 1920s treated, if that is the right word, by the then recommended regime of complete rest – not even books were allowed, lest they excite the brain – milk, weight gain, fresh air and early nights. One of her doctors, Sir George Savage, was especially keen to treat neurasthenic women by excessive feeding and complete rest. Woolf was given four or five pints of milk every day, half a pint every two hours. After five days of milk on this scale, she was allowed to add a cutlet, malt extract, cod liver oil and beef tea. The rather brainless thinking behind the regime was that since patients like Woolf stopped eating and lost weight when depressed, they could be forced back into wellness by being made to gain weight.

Imagine having depression and your ‘treatment’ is being forced to do nothing and drink loads of milk.

Side note. I like this picture of her. She looks so very human:

Read this next: 1930’s Protective Foods

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