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In Italian we say essere innamorato (to be in love) whereas the English idiom, to fall in love, expresses the idea of abandonment, of letting oneself go.

  • mi sono innamorato = I am in love, and I've fallen in love.
  • ci siamo innamorati = we are in love, and we fell in love.

Although the idiom fall in love does not exist in Italian, it does have the idiom "fall in depression" (to be depressed).

  • mi sono caduto/a in depressione, is literally: “I've fallen (or fell) in depression
  • ci siamo caduti in depressione, is literally: “we fell in depression

I looked up the phrase fall in depression in Google and saw to my surprise that it's not as common as I thought it would be. What's more, it also means a slump in the economy mixed in with the results, e.g. since real wage rates rise in prosperity and fall in depression, so Google Ngram viewer won't be of much help.

  1. For all that, is “fall into a depression” perhaps more appropriate and grammatical? What about “fall into depression”?

  2. Have I forgotten an alternative saying, or idiom that expresses finding oneself suddenly (or even gradually) despondent and experiencing great solitude?

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    Falling into [a] depression, with or without the article, is definitely the only form I've heard. Nov 17, 2014 at 7:37
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    Fall in love is an idiomatic expression (attested from 1520s- Etymonline ). To fall into something is a more generic construction with negative connotations ( both in fiscal and in figurative sense) fall into depression, fall into a trap, fall into bad habits, fall into debt. books.google.com/ngrams/…
    – user66974
    Nov 17, 2014 at 8:27
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    I think that in either case 'fall into' is the correct expression to use. Definitely in economics( my field). 'Fall in' in the cases shown by Ngram is probably an outdated usage in my opinion.
    – user66974
    Nov 17, 2014 at 8:58
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    "fell into a depression" runs about 9 psych:1 econ on Googling. Nov 17, 2014 at 9:56
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    You’ve probably already noticed & accounted for this, but with many, if not most of the results that I get with "fall in depression," “fall” appears to me to mean more like “decrease” ("decrease in depression"), with the economic-related ones meaning more like "wages DECREASE in/during (times of) depression" & the mental health-related ones often seeming to mean more like “studies show (a) DECREASE in (cases of) depression.” Granted, that still leaves plenty of “fall in (clinical) depression” results that mean what you are saying, but I’m not convinced that such usage is “correct.”
    – Papa Poule
    Nov 17, 2014 at 13:59

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I have heard and used “falling INTO (clinical) depression often, but never “falling IN depression.” (Please see my comment under your question regarding Google results for “falling IN depression”)

For an idea similar to “falling into,” I’ve also heard/used “SINKING into (a) depression,” either with or without the article when related to mental health.

For verbs that would use “IN” instead of “INTO,” (and I realize that you weren't asking for that) I’ve heard/used “WALLOWING in depression,” "BEING in a depression," and "SUBMERGED in depression" but those would be for someone who has already sunk into it, I suppose. I can't think of a verb with just "IN" that would describe suddenly or gradually heading to that state .

(PS I'll just paste my comment here, so please ignore my reference to it above:

"You’ve probably already noticed & accounted for this, but with many, if not most of the results that I get with "fall in depression," “fall” appears to me to mean more like “decrease” ("decrease in depression"), with the economic-related ones meaning more like "wages DECREASE in/during (times of) depression" & the mental health-related ones often seeming to mean more like “studies show (a) DECREASE in (cases of) depression.” Granted, that still leaves plenty of “fall in (clinical) depression” results that mean what you are saying, but I’m not convinced that such usage is 'correct.'" – Papa Poule 2 hours ago)

PPS: I’m kind of sad to discover that one doesn’t “fall” in love in Italian, because it renders even lamer all of my already lame attempts at cleverness in French concerning Alberto Tomba: “J’imagine toutes les femmes tombent pour Tomba!” now that I know that it would make no sense at all in Italian!

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  • I wrote my "results" before seeing your answer. Now I'll have to repeat it all over again! But I don't have time now, so please be patient. But you mentioned sinking into depression BEFORE I posted my Ngrams.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Nov 17, 2014 at 16:47
  • Updated my post.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Nov 17, 2014 at 20:53
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Summmary

Thanks to the various suggestions I received, I obtained the following results from Ngrams. The expression entered depression showed no results on Ngrams, which doesn't mean that it's never used nor said, but simply Google Books fails to report its presence.

British English Corpus

BrEng Ngram chart

American English Corpus
AmEng Ngram chart

All the following verbs listed below can be used to describe somebody who becomes depressed.

  • sink (sank) into depression
  • plunge (plunged) into depression
  • fall (fell) into depression
  • go (went) into depression
  • succumbed to depression
  • [verb] him into depression: send, sent, led, plunge, plunges, plunged, plunging, threw, thrown, throwing, spun, put, drive, driven, sank, dragging,

Google Books reports 3,450 hits for "developed depression"; 3,050 results for "succumbed to depression", "sinking into depression" gets 5,070 hits and for "sank into depression" Google retrieves 10,200 results

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In most instances in the general population, if I heard the idiom "fall into depression", I would tend first to interpret it as an economic term. When I heard the phrase "she became depressed", I would be more inclined to think of the mental health term. But all forms of the word can be used in either the sense of finances, or mental health, so if I knew I was hearing someone who I knew had special interest in economics or finances, on the one hand, or medical affairs, mental health on the other, this would inform the interpretation I placed on the idiom.

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I would use the expressions "develop depression" or "succumb to depression" to speak strictly of the mental state, clinical or not.

However, "falling into depression" can be understood in the way you say, depending on the context. For example, "The country fell into depression" is clearly pertaining to its financial situation, whereas "She fell into depression" talks about the mental state of a woman and nothing else.

I would use "falling into a depression" only in the financial sense.

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  • I like succumb to depression, as it implies someone who poses very little to no resistance. Not too sure about develop depression though...hmmm. Could you post a reference or link for that one, please.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Nov 17, 2014 at 9:27
  • I would think succumb to depression sounds too much like to die. Do people surrender to depression like they do to temptation? I don't think so, but that's just my opinion. Nov 17, 2014 at 9:49

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