The Ancient Cure for Depression

By Sara Burrows on Monday March 14th, 2016

Counteracting the health impact of a Civilized Lifestyle

Depression is a global epidemic. It is the main driver behind suicide, which now claims more than a million lives per year worldwide. One in four Americans will suffer from clinical depression within their lifetimes, and the rate is increasing with every generation.

It robs people of sleep, energy, focus, memory, sex drive and their basic ability to experience the pleasures of life, says author of The Depression Cure Stephen Ilardi. It can destroy people’s desire to love, work, play and even their will to live. If left unchecked it can cause permanent brain damage.

DepressionDepression robs people of sleep, energy, focus, memory and sex drive

Depression lights up the pain circuitry of the brain to such an extent that many of Ildari’s psychiatric patients have called it torment, agony and torture. “Many begin to look to death as a welcome means of escape,” he said in a Ted Talks presentation.

But depression is not a natural disease. It is not an inevitable part of being human. Ildari argues, like many diseases, depression is a disease of civilization. It’s a disease caused by a high-stress, industrialized, modern lifestyle that is incompatible with our genetic evolution.

Depression is the result of a prolonged stress-response, Ildari said. The brain’s “runaway stress response” – as he calls it – is similar to the fight or flight response, which evolved to help our ancestors when they faced predators or other physical dangers. The runaway stress response required intense physical activity for a few seconds, a few minutes, or – in extreme cases – a few hours.

“The problem is for many people throughout the Western world, the stress response goes on for weeks, months and even years at a time, and when it does that, it’s incredibly toxic,”
Ildari said.

Living under continually stressful conditions – as many modern humans do – is disruptive to neuro-chemicals like dopamine and seratonin, which can lead to sleep disturbance, brain damage, immune dysregulation and inflammation, Ildari says.

StressedLiving under continually stressful conditions

Civilization is the disease

Epidemiologists have now identified a long list of other stress-related diseases as “diseases of civilization” – diabetes, atherosclerosis, asthma, allergies, obesity and cancer. These diseases are rampant throughout the developed world, but virtually non-existent among modern-day aboriginal peoples.

In a study of 2000 Kaluli aborigines from Papua New Guinea, only one marginal case of clinical depression was found. Why? Because the Kaluli lifestyle is very similar to our hunter-gatherer ancestors’ lifestyle that lasted for nearly 2 million years before agriculture, Ildari said.

“99.9 percent of the human experience was lived in a hunter-gatherer context,” he added. “Most of the selection pressures that have sculpted and shaped our genomes are really well adapted for that environment and that lifestyle.”

Tribal people in Papua New GuineaHunter-gatherer lifestyle

In view of nearly 3 million years of hominid existence, since homo habilis first began use of stone tools, our genus has undergone rapid environmental change since the advent of agriculture about 12,000 years ago. And in the last 200 years, since the industrial revolution, our species has had to cope with what Ildari calls “radical environmental mutation.”

While our environment has radically mutated, our human genome is essentially the same as it was 200 years ago, Ildari says. “That’s only eight generations. It’s not enough time [for significant genetic adaptations].”

“There’s a profound mismatch between the genes we carry, the bodies and brains that they are building, and the world that we find ourselves in,” he said. “We were never designed for the sedentary, indoor, socially isolated, fast-food-laden, sleep-deprived frenzied pace of modern life.” 

The Cure

Though he’s not entirely opposed to medication, Ildari says we can throw all the drugs in the world at the depression epidemic, and it won’t make a dent.

Anti depressant use has gone up 300 percent in the last 20 years, but the rate of depression has continued to increase. One in nine Americans over age 12 is currently taking an antidepressant, and one in five have been on them at some point.

Depressed childThe rise in youth depression

The answer, Ildari says, is a change in lifestyle. He says the results of his six step program have exceeded his wildest dreams:

1. Exercise
2. Omega 3 Fatty Acids
3. Sunlight
4. Healthy Sleep
5. Anti-ruminative activity
6. Social connection

In his presentation, he emphasized the importance of exercise and social connection, as they are two of the hardest parts of the program for modern Americans.

Exercise is ‘not natural’

Ildari says the results of exercise on depression are so powerful that if they could be reduced into a pill, it would be the most expensive pill on earth. The problem is 60 percent of American adults get no regular physical activity. Ildari says it’s not their fault. Between long days at work and household and family responsibilities to attend to, who has the time or energy to hit the gym?

OverworkedLong days at work and household and family responsibilities

The dirty little secret about exercise, Ildari says, is “it is not natural.” We are designed to be physically active “in the service of adapted goals,” not to exercise on a hamster wheel.

Hunter gatherers get four or more hours of vigorous physical activity every day, but if you ask them they will tell you they don’t exercise, Ildari says. “They don’t work out. Working out would be crazy to them. They live.”

“When you put a lab rat on a treadmill … it will squat down on it’s haunches, and the treadmill starts to rub the fur and the skin right off it’s back side,” he said. “When you stare at a piece of exercise equipment, there is a part of your brain that’s screaming out ‘Don’t do it! You’re not going anywhere!’”

Brisk walkingGoing on a brisk walk

If you can’t go out gathering your own nuts and berries or hunting your own meat, Ildari recommends brisk walking with a friend. Walking for 30 minutes, three times a week, has better effects on depression than Zoloft, he said.

Social Connection

Another huge factor in modern depression is the lack of social connection in our modern nuclear-family bubbles. “Face-time with our loved ones puts the breaks on our stress response,” Ildari says.

The problem is we’ve replaced face-time with screen-time.

Our hunter gatherer ancestors spent all day every day in the company of their loved ones.

Unfortunately illness, including mental illness, triggers people to isolate themselves, which only makes depression worse.

Tribal childrenOur hunter gatherer ancestors spent all day every day in the company of their loved ones

“Resist the urge to withdraw,” Ildari says, “because when you’re ill, your body tells you to shut down and pull away. When you have the flu, that’s adaptive. When you have depression, it’s the worst thing in the world you could do.”

Rewilding and Tribal Living

What Ildari didn’t mention in his Ted Talk is how difficult his cure is for most modern humans to attain. Sure, we’d all like more fresh air, sunlight, exercise, a better diet, better sleep, less monotonous work, and more interaction with loved ones, but who has time for all that?

Getting outdoorsWe’d all like more fresh air, sunlight, exercise. Credit: Alexandra Merisoiu.

I’m stuck here staring at my screen typing about it in an effort to make a living for myself, and many of you don’t even have time to read this article because you have 50+ hours-a-week jobs of your own. Meanwhile, immediate-return hunter-gatherers work an average of 17 hours a week. In this world, we certainly can’t just quit our jobs to be less stressed, when the financial stress would create more stress.

In my opinion, the answer lies in baby steps. Baby steps away from dependence on civilization, and toward nature, earth skills, and self-sustaining communal living. These are things I plan to learn more about while building this website. I’m excited to share what I learn with you, and hope you’ll share your knowledge with me.




The Hidden Antidote for Depression


Treating Depression with Tribal Wisdom


The Link Between Depression and Inflammation

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69 Responses to The Ancient Cure for Depression

  1. In 2017 after 28 years as a Xerox field tech and 30 years in a loveless marriage with a wife that threatened suicide once a week I had finally had it. I was sitting in the backyard with a gun in my hand ready to take away my misery. Someone called the cops and I was taken to a lock down behavioral health center. I retired and got divorced, two of my main stressors gone. I have a peaceful life but still get bouts of depression. After reading this article I think I now have a plan. Short walks, easy bike rides, getting out and meeting people, looking up forgotten friends. Wish me luck.

    • So much luck and love and light and joy to you Dana! Sounds like it’s been really challenging for you… I’m so happy this article helped inspire you in finding new ways to take care of yourself. All the very best on your journey 🙂

      Team UPLIFT

  2. I very much enjoyed reading the article. I certainly agree with most of the tenants outlined and especially the recommendations for combatting mental illness. I do think it may be a bit simplistic, though, to hearten back to the “hunter/gatherer” age and assign some sort of blissful, happy, healthy moniker to it. That generation had its own stress. It took all of their effort to find enough food to subsist for them and their family. Their water sources were not clean, many died of infection or illness. We live far longer now than they did then. How grateful I am to live in a time of such health and prosperity. We have so much knowledge at our fingertips and more free time than ever before. Just me reading and responding to this article is proof of that. I would have been milking a cow in the early morning hours of the day but a machine does that for me now. Our challenge lies in how we respond to these great blessings. Will we grow lazy and more insular or push ourselves to be physically active and reach out to make personal connections when it is not required of us to merely subsist and survive? Thanks for letting me share.

    • I was in the Peace Corps on a tropical island. From the outside it looked like Paradise but once you got to know the people they had many stresses such as lack of emergency medical care, food scarcity, inter-personal problems having to do with village life, lack of sanitation, lack of disease prevention, and yes, mental health problems.

  3. First I would like to thank you for this very important article. It made a lot of sense to me. I agree with most of what you say but then you spoil it by complaining that you cannot take on board what you published in your article. Is that not defeating the purpose of what you have written? Walk the talk. Your health is your wealth especially your mental health! Your work can wait 15 minutes to half an hour. If you work freelance you are your own boss. Your sanity deserves a walk in natural light. Look after yourself, your last paragraph revealed a lot more about you than the whole article. I have lived with chronic depression all my life and I know how debilitating it can be. Yes I hid, yes I felt suicidal in the past but I am a survivor and it has taken me a long time to heal. Art and embroidery are my saviour and I thank the Universe for the talents she has bestowed upon me. Make time for yourself because if you neglect your mental and physical health…do yourself a favour; listen and pay heed to the messages your body is sending you please.

  4. Depression is natural. In my opinion we have lost connection with ourselves to such a great extent that many of us don’t know who we are or how we feel much of the time .Depression is part of a natural cycle that most of us go through during our lives. The real problem here is that we are so far into our intellect we think that it is who we are, and we make our decisions based on rationale, thank you Descartes.
    Nowadays, as opposed to not that long ago, everything that puts us inside ourselves is negatively labeled and judged, as our egos and intellect are wont to do. Feeling down is labeled as “bad” and feeling up is “good”. If someone gets depressed, people nowadays tends to judge themselves as ” there is something wrong with me.”
    They look at all the people around them, and see themselves as “less than”. This starts a downward spiral. The people around them seem perfectly fine, when in truth many are putting on an act themselves. Because there is so much denied depression in Western Culture, for many it becomes a vibe that takes extraordinary measures to overcome and adds to the depression they already feel.
    For folks whose depression is not pathological, biological or genetic, the cure is not to fight it but to go into it with great respect and love for yourself as well as the support of a community of people who love you as you really are. If you hate yourself, you will probably have to learn to love yourself first. Some people will need the expertise of a good therapist and wisely prescribed drugs. All of this can take years if the depression is deep enough.
    See, that’s the problem- everybody wants the quick fix. There is a lot of truth in the saying that most people’s problems stem from trading what they want long term for what they want short term. A great book on the subject of dealing with depression is “Care of the Soul” by Thomas Moore.

    • Oh I love this book! It is beautiful, I read it from cover to cover and dipped into it now and again then gave it as a gift to a dear friend who I felt needed it at the time. Is it still available to buy? I would love to have another copy.

  5. This is right on! I have been plagued with two life altering bouts of depression. Even my doctors realize my depression is pharmaceutically resistant. And, as I am currently emerging I am determined to implement the steps set out here. Exercise pulled me out of my last bout and I am determined to build my emerging new routine around exercise and recreation.

  6. I appreciate your writing this and agree 100%. Another aspect is our connection to the earth. “Digging in the dirt” so to speak is sorely missing in this time we live in.

  7. Its true in what is said we all work.to hard drink to.much. no time for yourself and family .the internet is great but we spend to much time on it .you don’t see kids out playing anymore and if you do it’s very seldom.

  8. Is there confusion about being sad and being depressed…two different things…I often see teens labelled as depressed and the ist line of treatment is medication…often not offered counselling or no discussing on a holistic lifestyle and their disconnect to nature. Also feel we are not role modelling to kids about giving back and helping them to give rather than take…simple strategies that helps to focus off self while actually helping others can be therapeutic.

  9. This is not new info, but I really like the reminder and hope to read more. Right now im.laying in a hospital bed after just getting my gallbladder out. It’s a big red flag for me, and how I want my lifestyle to look going forward.

  10. I think the 5 or 6 advice notes are right. Depending on pharmaceuticals is ludicrous and narrow minded. I don’t want to completely blot out drugs as a possible crutch in the process of employing your 6 “to do” list for feeling healthy

  11. All of the above is great, but one huge factor in depression the author is missing is the link between microwave frequency electromagnetic fields and neuropsychiatric conditions. In plain speak, cell phone use causes changes in the brain known to be linked to depression. Google “Microwave frequency electromagnetic fields (EMFs) produce widespread neuropsychiatric effects including depression”
    (Pall, 2016) or find it here: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0891061815000599 It’s a great resource because Pall also lists numerous studies showing biological effects from wireless radiation exposure. Worth a look.
    Bottom line, one big reason less industrialized countries have lower rates of depression is they do not have as many electrical devices, wireless appliances and cell phones.

  12. What I find quite effective to maintain my mind healthy and bring my energy up when I feel a bit depressed is to clean my rooms. If you get to do it seriously with devotion and a sence of improving your living environment in terms of cleanness, desigh, and comfortablity, you really have to work hard but eventually you will find yourself more fresh and energitic with positive feeling about the moment you live. And this environment that you created for yourself will sustain you in good feeling and organize your mind and attitude. Maybe this way of thinking has lot to do with Zen way, which is experienced in our daily life in Japan. It won’t cost a penny and you can arbitrary chosehow long you want to put in this simple activity. Hope you try and feel the air of it!

  13. This would immediately rid me of my depression and anxiety:
    Watch ‘Zeitgeist Moving Forward’ on Youtube for details on why the world is as it is and the solution.
    A better world IS possible, but it’s up to us.

  14. Meditate, Eat healthy, Thank the creator AKA our father, Breathe, Hydrate, Sunlight, Exercise, and most important Always Love Yourself and Everyone too. Love, Peace, Happiness, and forever endless Possibilities ;).

  15. The doctor’s name is Stephen Ilardi, not “Ildari.” If you’re going to summarize someone’s life’s work in an article, at least get his name right.

  16. I say, when you are depressed, find the cause, when you find the cause then deal with it. For eg. If depression came about after a long relationship came to an end and now you are depressed because you are reminiscing over the stupid person you broke up with, that will later on just affect alot more areas in your life, your job, your finances, your relationship with friends, your eating habits, and before you know it, you’re in too deep and you have more to be depressed about. Deal with it. If you depressed because you don’t have an income, find a job, if it is loneliness, get a partner.

  17. Having an allotment, some green space to grow your own food is as most people who have had depression or any form of mental health would agree, one of the best ways of exercise, get fresh air and a sense of satisfaction as well as growing your own food. You do not have to be an avid gardener or green fingered, you learn as you go. If you grow too much, give it away to friends neighbours etc. It all helps to give you a sense of well being.

  18. One of the things neglected in ancient or primal or indigenous cultures is love. Modern culture limits love to “boy/girl” stuff and it is much bigger! Love leads to the synergy of interdependence, a necessity of cultures to survive.

    The next problem I have with this article is much of what we call “depression” is actually Angst, or intense sorrow. This comes from loss. The definition of “anger” was changed in 1938 from intense sorrow to “hostile passion.” It is a hostile passion directed inward and the extreme behavior associated with it is suicide. The difference between anger and resentment is homicide is the extreme behavior of resentment.

    Any loss sets up the grieving process. As Christopher Ryan said in “Sex at Dawn, Civilization is based on greed.” When we “lose” a girl of boy friend, we grieve the loss. Our greed tells us they ours. The process is denial, anger (angst), resentment, self pity, acceptance and then forgiveness and gratitude. Whit boy/girl love, when it is unconditional, it doesn’t stop but it does change.

    In primal cultures, again they went through a process of dependency just as we do today. The difference being they had interdependence as a model, where we have co-dependence today. Not being greedy, and having little ownership, they did not have “things” to lose: things to which they were attached. Most of these tribes were an interdependent anarchy. We, today can do this, if we want.

  19. I love the article! The steps are a tried-and-tested approach, as I know from working with a couple of psychosynthesis life coaching clients who were at a ‘life crossroads’, and who were experiencing depression.

    These steps are a useful temporary stop-gap, and as you rightly point out, the deeper issue is systemic; the current setup of Civilisation is not conducive to long-term, sustainable living. This requires not only a shift in collective attitudes to what constitutes self-worth, there is an acute need to extend our perception of time.

    The ‘Rewilding of Earth’ which accommodates a transformed civilisation, with its benefits though without its downsides, is going to be on timescales of centuries and millenia.

    Lets stay on the trail of evolution ?

  20. I thought the part about exercise not being natural was refreshing to read. As for the rest – the problem is not that we don’t know that social connection is important, speaking for myself, it is that I don’t know how to make it happen. I can call people and go out for coffee, but that isn’t the same as a lifestyle where working side by side with people I know and love is a multi-hour a day experience. I saw a picture the other day of a beautiful African sunset with the silhouettes of 10-12 people – probably herders – standing looking at it. Where, how, when could that ever happen in our modern lives? Organic, frequent, unremarkable interaction? Other than with immediate families, most people don’t have interactions like that. Also, I was kind of shocked that social interaction was placed at the bottom of the list of things to do, even below anti-ruminating – which social interaction helps prevent! Ok, I think we all get it, social interaction fights depression, loneliness kills, etc…. Please I hope some creative minds will get to work on some social structures, life styles, solutions that will help us re-create socially active lives in a modern context.

    • 2 years ago I took myself off pills I had been taking for years and developed suicidal thoughts. I laid in that hospital bed for 3 days straight, I wanted to not eat and just lay there and die. Then I slowly climbed out of my hole, and now on barely any meds I realize something. My depression is from an intense sorrow, a sorrow built for so long the meds were just suppresing. I took a few day programs and learned a TONNE about how I see myself, my relationships, life, etc. When something is out of balance in your life your soul hurts. My dad is a disaster, that cut deep, then I married a woman who is like my dad and views physical intimacy as an act in a ‘logical’ way, not pleasurable, spiritual, joyful. So that cut really deep. Then, after carrying this sadness and denying myself the right to feel and be human, here I am, off anti-D’s and feeling. Crying. Wanting. Recognizing the pain. Now I have choices to make. Divorce? Get away from my Dad? And my body is paralysed because I am afraid and embarassed. The point of this is that back in the day, I wouldn’t have been given an antidepressant when I was 19 in the first place and would have had people to talk to and outlets for any sorrow or anger I may have had. Go on a hunt, build a shelter, sleep with my wife, focus on survival, dance with the tribe, whatever. I was diagnosed bipolar 2 and anxious. Thanks Dr. so and so, but what about the pain in my soul? No medication fixes that, but if meds work for you great.

  21. Sara Burrows thank you for writing this. It’s a very important message. However I wonder if you could edit the use of ‘modern day aboriginals’. I am defending your article to many people about topics they bring up around ableism etc but this term I can’t defend and I’m sure if you think about it you’ll want to change it. ‘Modern day aboriginals’ implies that our First Nations populations (who have lifestyles just like us) are no longer Aboriginal which is a horrible statement in itself but also has a huge context and history (just read The Inconvenient Indian by Thomas King and his concept of ‘dead Indians’). Maybe just say ‘modern day hunter-gatherer societies’ instead. Please considering fixing this.

  22. Depression is a timeline train wreck

    This writing is from my insight into depression; what causes depression and how it is healed.

    We are conditioned to perceive life moving along a timeline from the past through the present into the future. In this writing, metaphorically, we are a train running on the rails of our timeline.

    Our past is at the rear of the train, as are the baggage cars. We have lots of baggage which hold our repressed emotions tied together with decisions we made up, when we suffered traumas. These energetically influence how we behave today. We have hurt baggage repressed inside us, anger baggage from being hurt, and fear baggage of being hurt again.

    In front of the train is the engine and the future cars where we spend most of our time. In between the past train cars and future cars is the present moment of time, now car. We don’t usually focus much attention on what is now, unless we are lost in a creative endeavor or are sensually tempted.

    The engine is the energy of the train. When our life energy is balanced, when mind, body, and spirit are one, we are balanced, healthy, and whole. This timeline train, however, is programmed and conditioned to be ego mind-centered. We believe who we are is our ego mind; body and spirit both missed the train.

    The future cars hold our hopes, dreams, and desires. This is where we strategize, scheme, and stress to get what we want. We feel the time between desiring and getting what we want as tension; the greater our desire, the more tension we feel. Cumulative tension is stress.

    Life on the train goes along, according to our mindset, until a crisis, an unexpected turn of events, challenges our complacency. We may suddenly find ourselves suffering; people we care about get sick and die, or we get sick or seriously injured, or we get depressed over a failed love relationship, a divorce, a lost friend, or a bankrupt business, etcetera.

    Or, perhaps, we succeed beyond our wildest dreams, then realize we are not happy and content. We up our game to get more and more of everything, but strangely more things and more success does not fill an increasing crisis of emptiness.

    A life crisis is an opportunity to awaken and learn. Resistance to resolving a crisis, however, adds to our pain and suffering. When painful resisting persists, we can cycle down into a state of depression. We try to feel better, but we fail again and again, feeling only more depressed and hopeless. We can’t think clearly. Our repressed baggage of hurt, anger, and fear, is surfacing causing strong inappropriate reactions. We feel exhausted, and sleepy. Nothing is as it should be. We don’t even like what we used to enjoy. We can’t feel much, we are alive but not alive, we move in a fog of unawareness.

    We feel like the train wreck that just happened. The front future cars derailed, because suffering has crashed our conditioned mindset program. Hope has failed to deliver its promise of happiness. Now only negative, hopeless, depressive thoughts go round in our head. The rear baggage cars crashed into the present moment car that wrecked any consciousness we had. Emotional baggage we hate feeling is strewed everywhere.

    We attempt to clear the wreckage, but we are too beat up. We cannot make out any sense of what happened. Time is passing and nothing has helped. We believe a diagnosis we were given, but the medication only worked for a awhile and we hated the side effects. We tried breathing and exercise, but that was very hard to do. We sometimes think about ending it all.

    Help has finally arrived to clear the train wreck. Feeling desperate, realizing we have nothing to lose, we decided to try alternative holistic healings we heard about. The active meditations we have tried are helping us feel alive again. There seems to be very much to learn. We are starting to understand that the present moment of now is the only reality. We are releasing our old repressed emotional baggage and learning to take responsibility for how we feel. We again feel happy. Healing is finally happening! Yay!!!

    I teach awakening. I awoke from a deep depression on the verge of suicide, 43 years ago, when I was 30. I know that depression can be a transition period; a time of transformation from a programmed conditioned life to an evolved, awakened consciousness.

    Healing depression requires becoming open to awakening. Awakening is the process of witnessing inside us, realizing we have been hypnotized to believe myriads of lies. The work of transformation can be confusing and sometimes disorienting at first, but after suffering the deadness of depression, discomforts of a rebirth are welcomed. Specially designed meditations do healing wonders, but beware that medications inhibit change.

    I teach awakening. Awakening is becoming aware of who you really are, by letting go of who you are not; it is about bringing to light, presence, joy, love, and creativity. Awakening usually begins with a crisis, when our conditioned program crashes. Otherwise we rarely change. Crisis is an opportunity to open our mind, because it is as shocking as realizing any truth. Visit my web site at 2b-One.com

  23. We can talk about this, and everyone has his opinion on how to help, but it the depressed person does not want to look at himself and help himself, there is little anyone else can do.
    It would be very helpful if one can discover the origin that causes ones depression.
    It is possible that sometimes the depression is, in itself, something that the person uses to show anger or criticism about some frustration in his life, and a way to attract attention to himself, aiming to get a solution based on pity or sympathy.
    Only the person can find out his motivation, but most times he does not really want that, and because the process is, mostly, not conscient, but an habit one gets into, by default. This is similar to a kid that cries because the others do not give him the ball to play. Maybe the others, for pity or sympathy, will end up passing him the ball. He stops crying when he gets what he wants. I know that I used to do that, wen I look at some of my photos of when I was a Kid. It is effective, but painful to one self.
    With depression there are different problems, that goes from denial of the fact or of the trigger that originates it, to the lack of understanding and willingness to accept that the world will not turn upside down to accommodate ones wishes, easily. So, the more effective we are in hiding, from ourselves, the reason that depress us, and the greater the believe that the world and the people around us should adjust to our needs, the more difficult it is to get out of the depressing state.
    Of course that if we exercise and if we socialise, that will be greatly helpful, because that will give us what we all want: wealthy and fulfilled life. This way we do not need for the world to turn itself upside down for us, we will just take the good things in life, simply.
    We will simply disregard the reason for our depression. It is a wonderful solution. And we allow ourselves to be happy, without needing to realise that our expectations of the world could not be satisfied. Without needing change our idea that we are the centre of the Universe.
    Even without solving the depression, defenatly exercise and socialise, allow the good things to be part of you.

  24. The walking/exercising I already “adopted”, but being social with my friend when I’m at my lowest isn’t an option. The people I know avoid me when I’m depressed, hey… sometimes I don’t understand that I’m depressed before seeing how my friends/acquaintances acts around me 🙁

  25. I been trying to have this conversation for years now but the vast majority of people don’t want to hear it, “modern ‘civilized’ man has it better than ALL of our hunter / gatherer ancestors”, end of story. We are so arrogant as a species it’s ridiculous, I think all the processed sugar induced inflammation in our doughy modern day bodies is clouding our stress filled brains to the point where only another asteroid impact or some other enormous setback in ‘progress’ can reverse this trend.

  26. I have been saying this for years, we don’t live the way we’re supposed to be living, it’s not sustainable in any way, hunter/gatherers work 17 hrs against our 40/50; and most of use think their crazy! Our civilized world has made us go backwards not forwards. Communal living is the only sustainable way to live.

  27. I disagree that it has anything to do with modern civilisation. You can read the old Viking sagas and find plenty of examples of people with similar issues well over a thousand years ago.

    They certainly got plenty of sunlight, omega 3 from fish and exercise back then! So these aren’t cures, just generally okay things to do.

    • This is an interesting perspective. In addition, their lives were generally not very long. Alcohol has been around a long time to ease the mind, but it can easily creep up on the individual and become a problem over time.

    • “Plenty examples” defines nothing, you can read many things including bible, information and evidence, represents absolutely nothing.

      We’ve unbiased scientific data today not some grandmother babblings. So as much as you love exploration, stick to real science.

  28. I survived a 5 year suicidal depression. No medication made me feel good, but feedback from family was that I was easier to be around when medicated. Then I was diagnosed with nasophryngeal cancer. The chemo and radiation were AWFUL. When it was over I got sicker for a year before I felt any better. I would rather have been hit by a car and snuffed out in a blink. To have suffered the depression and survived just to be here for cancer. Wow. And no, I’m not grateful to be alive. I’m not here for a long time, but I am here for a good time. I don’t care much for getting old either.

  29. I think that I can say that although he is very right with this Ancient cure for depression, I feel that he has missed out one very important key Ancient cure element which now modern science is even starting to rediscover that it works, which I was ‘lucky’ to have been granted discovery of in my potentially prolonged stress response recovery from encephalitis in which I lost my memory, my mobility, my friends, my home and all my possesions.
    So my hint to help anyone else who might be at risk of prolonged stress, is that in Ancient times those Samurai warriors would not have had to deal with any depression even in their high stressed world of battles cos they made sure to start each day with their Misogi Ritual.
    Now the thing I find a bit strange is that I’m not sure why its not yet more widely prescribed cos it has been studied and shown to be effective, and you can see that it is an already well known about by googleing “cold shower depression”, and if you need help to pluck up the courage to have a go, then just google “cold shower health benefits”, and you will see a great list of health benefits which will make you wish you’d been sooner at the depresive door.

    • Wouldn’t the Samurai have just been sneered at by their contemporaries for weakness though? Shame and dishonour played a huge part in their societies, after all.

      I feel there was depression still, but they would have just had to swallow it and keep their heads down for the most part.

  30. But the problem is, you cannot socialize when you have depression cuz people don’t want any negative energy around them and that’s the cruel truth. These are mad times, no one cares about you, unless you care! You don’t need to give explanation to anyone, just find yourself and enjoy it! Don’t be shy, do crazy stuffs that fills you (keep these things for yourself), start reading books, your spirit and body are the same thing WORK ON THEM! Gain some self respect, boost your confidence and choose wisely! Its your life, your decisions! That’s how your treat depression!

        • Yes. I know others who are clinically depressed and I have dealt with it at times myself. I have very loving, understanding friends and family who surround me. I can go to any one of them. I am there for those who are suffering from depression. I visit them at their home. Even with my business, family (cleaning, cooking, wiping noses, listening and doing homework), volunteer work (weekly ministry and caring for the meeting place), regular exercise routine… ANYONE can find the time to help others. Love them. Find ones who love you. Get to know good people.

    • ” Its your life, your decisions!” actually a lot of people are forced to give up their joy to make their selfish parents happy until they are old enough to move away which is hard when you don’t have anyone that cares for you growing up

    • It is my responsibility to take care of my self. The lack of self-esteem​ is the root of all human problems. Why others have to care if everyone of us have a different journey?
      It is and always be my entire responsibility to look after my Self. What others can do, or say, or think is not important.
      The most important element in this equation is my self: Self conscious, self respect, self esteem…
      Just love yourself and focus in what is the best for you.
      You are the only one responsible of your happiness, your are responsible of your physical​ and mental health.

  31. I think the first step for me was learning and accepting that I was depressed. A doctor asked me , after a suicide attempt , how long have your been depressed and I responded I’m not depressed. I think PTSD damaged my brain . I sought theripy when I found I could not verbally respond to my children. I could thiink but couldn’t verbalize . I still have difficulty at times but time and repeated paterns taught me to see the signs of mental shut down. I am responding because I wanted to put out there a few things I have learned . I trired theripy and talking was a trigger so I go caugth in a cycle until I found Tapping . That was a tool that allowed me to step away from the PTSD when it struck. It was a small step toward feeling I could make my way threw the dark nights . I also have always had a storng belief in our ability to heal and felt that depression was a symptom of a broken spirit. I have attempted suicid three times . Fought the deisre for a long period of time each time until I stepped away from myself and went on auto piolet. I had to stop my life to do theripy and then I had to learn how to participate in theripy. This could get long winded so I will focuse on main point for responding . I have come to understand me , I am empathic , alergic to many chemical scents and solutions . I was in a good head space one day, high energy full spirit and my daughter came to drop of my grand daughter , she was wearing a perfume , with in minutes my mood changed,, I was witness to this decline , aggitation resplaced song, and I becaem self destrictive with in 10 minutes. It is threw observation of myself that I became aware of things that contribute to my brains dance and it has helped in stopping my struggle to “be well” . All the exercize , nutritional supplements , sunshiine and all of that didn’t help with the PTSD response or my empathic expericence or reaction to chemicals.. it was threw the repitition of experiences that taught me about me Peace in your walk and love to all of you . Beauty resides with in you .
    appoligies for the spelling , my spell check is not working

  32. This theory makes absolute sense to me….
    I heard a professor, about 10 years ago, speak on the challenge our bodies have with weight loss. His studies included the “groundhog” and how this animal eats multiple times its body weight just prior to hibernation, then sleeps for months and comes out thin again with no excercise. His theory basically states the same thing….The human body has not adapted genetically to realize that if we are hungry we can usually just pop over to the store to buy some food. What happens internally when the body feel hunger is it goes into “fight or flight” mode. The body panics when it needs nourishment for energy & warmth. It panics and produces ‘fat’ to protect its life and feeds off the muscle. The Groundhog on the other hand has adapted to its hibernation life-style….Its body does not go into panic but instead feeds itself over the hibernation period off the bodies fat stores. In other words it has a mechanism that by-passes the response to feed of muscle and goes directly to its fat storage. This professor has invented a ‘bar’ that triggers the same response in humans.

    The human body has not adapted to the revolutionary changes of civilization!!

    Thank you for sharing this analogy….It makes complete sense to me and I could be the poster child for a highly stressful long term life-style and its effects on the body, mind and soul! <3 I really appreciate you sharing this insight! Thank you

  33. I have hereditary major depression. So did my dad and his mother. I have taken SSRI’s since 1990. I also have arthritis, fibromyalgia, an artificial hip, and as of yesterday, a torn meniscus in my right knee. I can tell you from experience, that gardening, dancing, belonging to a cooperative enterprise, and joining a church or other spiritual group are all very good things against depression. Recently, I ended many years of personal isolation by moving to the town I’ve always wanted to live in, with an old friend. I was able to cut my dosage in half, but not quit completely. The deep physical and neurological suffering returns after a few days. I am 70 years old, so I was in my 40’s when they invented Prozac. I remember therapists recommending previous antidepressants, and me refusing them because I wanted to be alive. I took Prozac for only one year. Took Zoloft for many years, before switching to Escitalopram (forget its trade name) several years ago. I am fortunate to be able to take Celebrex for my physical pain. About 20 years ago, I decided that if I couldn’t earn a living, I could at least be useful. I started building community gardens. And tutoring grade-schoolers. And singing in the church choir, and attending seminars on healing the earth. As I share my gifts, I am healed. Praise and gratitude to the ONE!

  34. I have to disagree with large parts of this article. We are living in an evolved culture of victim. It is all too easy to become depressed.

    Citing ancient or historical human behaviour is like comparing bananas to cars. As a species we have evolved from even 50 years ago and as an anthropologist I can’t justify this.

    And yes i suffer from depression, but as a result of FM.

    • I totally agree. I suffer from this illness for 25 years now. I also disagree with this article 🙁

  35. Living in depression .. holds my mind in a memory, a belief, an understanding .. that makes history my ground.. There is no understanding that a future holds opportunity .. there is no ability to ‘plan a future’ .. surviving is the only impreative .. the loop of thinking is confirmed by “what happened once” .. I make myself invisible to the world .. a world I believe is not trustworthy .. this reaction is mirrored in the behavior of a frightened dog .. cowerying when someone …offers the affection of a loving touch. Those of us who know this suffering understand that this behavior is not made by choice .. those of us who know this suffering celebrate friends and family who offer to share the touch of a safe heart ..a beginning .. a way to crack open the memories .. the beliefs .. that are our jailers. Because of your love and understanding our mind’s folly begins to disolve .. a future begins to present as an option .. the lonliness is realized as self perpetuation and the resolve to try again becomes the ground of a life worth living. Thank you .. my heart knows your name .. my mind remembers your smile. Today is a good day.

    This article presents all of this truth .. the only thing it doesnt acknowledge is that these wonderful old ladies are sharing a pipe

    • Beautiful…and, for me, the depression keeps me from being able to tackle the survival imperative, so suicide becomes the only obvious choice. An SSRI, thank God, has kept me alive now for 18 years, and perhaps someday I will be able to muster the ability to try all of those other things to see if they could be as effective as the med for me.

      • catalinakel , I do hope you are able to find the peace that is inate in all of us. I also experienced depression. some as a result of PTSD and the brain damage done and the assosicative stimuli that exist in our day to day. Theripy helped, meds helps threw theripy and then I found my own way threw nutritional means and the constant vigial of connecting to the things I knew I loved but couldn’t feel the love or much at all. Peace be yours and a smiliing heart

  36. I’m with you, Sara. Baby steps and ‘Be the change’. It will take pioneers, like yourself, to reconnect us all with life: real, whole, full, connected life! It’s the small actions that are radical. When I had my children I decided to stay home to care for them and create a home and community for my family. Seems small, but feels radical in our current culture. Power to you, and all at Uplift!

    • Wonderful! Your children will be so much better off for it. They are not designed to be separated from their primary caregiver so young. And,I agree with the rest of your comment and the article. We need to get back more to our evolutionary ways of life

  37. Autonomic dysfunction diseases are rampant in the US and the EU but seldom found in other areas. They are generally caused by the brain’s “Fight or Flight” responses going into overdrive. Some, like Multiple System Atrophy are killers as the immune systems destroys the brain and the body. Why is it so regional? Could it be that we just short-circuit our Fight or Flight responses?

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