Edgar Allan Poe depression (A 5 point insight)

In this article, we analyze if Edgar Allan Poe was depressed. The article will begin by mentioning a few instances that might have led to the downward spiral of depression in Edgar Allan Poe. the article then analyses the language used by Edgar Allan Poe to understand if he was depressed, Finally we look at the different theories on how Edgar Allan Poe died. 

Was Edgar Allan Poe depressed? 

The death of Edgar Allan Poe was a mysterious one. Through various writings, we can understand that Edgar Allan Poe was depressed. Poe leads a very hard life. Since his childhood, he has lost his loved ones repeatedly. Poe lost his biological mother at the age of 2. He was then shifted to foster care, where he lost his foster mother at a pretty young age. After he started gambling, he was cut off from the rest of his family at the age of 20. He then married, but his wife died an early death at the age of 25. This left Poe heartbroken. He started drinking heavily. These complexities of his life may have lead to depression and risk of suicide. In fact, quite a few times, Poe had tried an attempt to suicide by overdosing on laudanum. 

Poe dies at the age of 40. His death is still a mystery. However, a few people that his death might have been a suicide prepared for a long time. 

Later in the blog, we will analyze Poe’s writings to understand if he was depressed.

Who was Edgar Allan Poe? 

Edgar Allan Poe was America’s well-known poet. Edgar Allan Poe was born in the city of Boston, United States of America, on January 19th, 1809, son of two touring actors, David Poe, and Elizabeth Arnold. He became an orphan as a child and was adopted by John Allan and Frances Kelling from Richmond, in the American state of Virginia. Later, the family lived in different American and British places. He started his studies at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville in February 1826. Poe was never disciplined for any misconduct at the University, but he did engage in gambling and ran up a debt of about 2000 American dollars, which added to the money he needed for his tuition and living, forced him to leave the school. The whole situation was probably the cause of a trauma he had with his foster father upon his return home. 

At age 18, Poe moved to Boston and quickly arranged the publication of his first book, a collection of poems under the title Tamerlane. Despite his authorship, Poe didn’t put his name anywhere in it and instead simply gave the author’s credit to “A Bostonian,” perhaps hoping that the book would get more attention since Boston was then a literary mecca. This didn’t work and Poe’s money and effort went lost. At this point, Poe had no money and had no skills for any specific job, other than a writer. His next move was to enlist in the army in May 1827. He was discharged after two years and decided to go for the next step in his military life, attending West Point Military Academy in the state of New York in July 1930. 

Less than one year later, in February 1831, he was expelled after been judged for neglect of duty and disobedience of orders to attend formations, classes, or church. His many family problems included being abandoned by his father during his early childhood as a result of problems related to alcoholism, the deaths of both his mother and foster mother due to tuberculosis, and disagreements with his foster father. He also had financial difficulties and endless problems when working as a journalist and writer because of frequent bouts of depression, mood swings, and abuse of substances such as alcohol, opium, laudanum, and morphine

He became involved with different women and eventually married his 13-year-old cousin Virginia Clemm, who also died from tuberculosis eleven years after their union. Among the more notable works in the various books published by Poe are, in addition to the famous poem The Raven, Tamerlane, and Other Poems, The Adventures of Arthur Gordon Pym, Tales of the Grotesque and Arabesque, and Extraordinary Tales, which includes the short stories The Fall of the House of Usher, The Black Cat, The Cask of Amontillado and The Murders in the Rue Morgue

Poe died in Baltimore, USA, on October 7, 1849, at the early age of 40.

His writings and depression 

There has been no medical diagnosis to prove that Edgar Allan Poe was actually suffering from depression. We can certainly make a judgment based on his life events. Having to had extreme financial strains and losing most of his loved ones, would not have been easy. It was also seen the Poe engaged in extreme cases of drug abuse. 

With all these, what puts it off is his writing. There is no better way to analyze the mental state of a person than his writings. It is also believed that those who are depressed write differently from those who are not.  The language one uses is can give away more information than we can ever imagine. 

Depressed people often use more negative words and a language that is consistent with social withdrawal. This means that they use self-referring words instead of community referring words. Depressed people also typically use more “working through” language – also called “cognitive processing” words – which includes “think”, “suppose” and “understand”.

With an index of depression language created. It was then used to analyze Poe’s writings. Throughout his life, Poe is believed to write 400 poems, stories, and personal letters. The analysis showed that over 20 texts reported abnormal signs of depression. Half of these texts were written during the years  1843, 1845, and 1849. However, to our surprise, these were the years of great success. Most of his writings that portrayed the signs of depression were usually personal letters and one text called The LightHouse. 

What is depression? 

Depression is a clinically designed mental health condition, that is usually characterized by extreme sadness, loss of appetite, loss of sleep. It is a condition where one can lose the hope of living. Depression today is the most prevalent mental health disorder. 

The signs and symptoms of depression include 

  • feelings of worthlessness,
  • hopelessness,
  • helplessness,
  • guilt,
  • lack of interest in daily activities,
  • irritability,
  • loss of energy,
  • loss of appetite,
  • sleep problems,
  • self-loathing, and
  • thoughts of suicide.

Some people like the great poet Edgar Allan Poe, usually confide in alcohol and other drugs to fight the horrors of depression. These are called negative coping strategies. These usually make you feel good temporarily but have a great impact later in your life as it did on Poe. 

The causes of depression are usually seen to be a combination of biological, social, and psychological issues. This means that you might be prone to depression if anyone from your family has suffered from depression. If you are predisposed to depression, an environmental trigger is necessary for it to enhance. In the case of America’s great poet, the loss of his loved ones and extreme financial constraints could have pulled the trigger. In addition, your psychological ability to resist and fight it also matters. 

How did Edgar Allan Poe die? 

Poe’s death is a great mystery. When the great mystery and thriller post dies, it left America in great horror. However, what is more, horrifying is the cause of his death. He died on October 7, 1849, just days after being found delirious, lying in a ditch and wearing someone else’s clothes. 

Poe was known to be depressed, and have issues of substance abuse. His death is usually termed as almost suicide or a long-lasting suicide. 

The actual cause of Poe’s death is not known to people to date. Some believe it to syphilis, while others a suicide. 

 Another enigma in Poe’s life is the actual cause of his death at Washington College Hospital in Baltimore, USA. He was found in a state of acute confusion in a tavern and was attended to by Dr. Moran. The information about Poe’s last days is somewhat vague, and it is not clear whether he was indulging in alcohol abuse or abstaining from alcohol and possibly experiencing the onset of delirium tremens. What is known is that he was found in a highly confused state suffering from visual hallucinations and allegedly repeating the words “Reynolds! Oh! Reynolds!” endlessly and finally “Lord, help my poor soul.” Poe became comatose and was described as having dilated pupils. He died within three days, and a diagnosis of “congestion of the brain” due to hepatic encephalopathy caused by alcoholism. 

In an article published in 1999, the hypothesis was put forward that Poe may have suffered from temporal lobe epilepsy triggered by alcohol abuse, which would explain the periods of confusion, with psychomotor automatisms and visual hallucinations. 

However, due to the lack of autopsy reports it is difficult to make a judgment. There are those who believe that Poe’s alcoholism and substance abuse might have lead to his liver failure. It is understood that Poe wanted this to happen. This was a  planned suicide.  On the other hand, there are those who believed that he was depressed but did not take his own life. 

In the end, it can only be said that America’s most famous writer published a great series of works that are still being loved. However, his death has been a mysterious one. 


In this article, we analyzed if Edgar Allan Poe was depressed. The article began by mentioning a few instances that might have led to the downward spiral of depression in Edgar Allan Poe. The article then analyzed the language used by Edgar Allan Poe to understand if he was depressed, Finally, we looked at the different theories on how Edgar Allan Poe died. 

FAQs: Edgar Allan Poe depression

What was Edgar Allan Poe’s personality?

Poe would also be described as being low in Agreeableness and Conscientiousness since he was argumentative, untrusting, and lacked self-control. 

What are the four major themes of Edgar Allan Poe?

Edgar Allan Poe was an American writer of primarily poetry and short stories that explored themes of death, regret, and lost love. these themes usually revolve around his life. Poe had lost most of his loved ones. He lost his wife as a result of Tuberculosis. Poe lived in poverty for most of his life, therefore showing regret that if only he had done something better in his life. 

What are a few famous works of Edgar Allan Poe? 

“The Raven”
“The Cask of Amontillado”
“The Masque of the Red Death”
“The Tell-Tale Heart”
“The Murders in the Rue Morgue”
“The Fall of the House of Usher”
“The Gold-Bug”