Taking care of the body and cultivating the mind were for the fathers of wisdom the key elements to promote well-being. Hence the cure for depression and anxiety of the ancient Greeks
Written and verified by the psychologist GetPersonalGrowth.
Last update: February 18, 2022
The ancient Greeks' cure for depression and anxiety is based on an interesting holistic approach. It was a lifestyle known as bios pythagorikos with which to teach people to take care of their diet, their physical activity, but above all their intellectual one. Protecting the body and cultivating the mind were, for our ancestors of wisdom, key elements in promoting well-being.
Nowadays it is possible that these elements do not seem all that indispensable. We have reached a point in our society where, perhaps what we need most is to go back to these very basic fundamentals. There where to reduce the complexity of our daily life, economize in terms of worries, cut stimuli, satisfy priorities.
Philosophy is always an interesting refuge to which to return from time to time to learn, reflect and awaken the senses. In a world where technology collapses each of our personal universes, it is interesting to remember the intent of this discipline. Figures like Plato, Aristotle or Pythagoras did not speak only of moral, ethical or aesthetic concepts.
They also taught the art of "good living". And, more importantly if possible, the ultimate goal of philosophy has always been to teach people to think better, an essential aspect that in the long term also allows us to invest in our well-being.
“Positive health requires knowledge of man's primary constitution and knowledge of the powers of various foods, both natural and those derived from human skill. But eating alone is not enough for health. Exercise is also needed, the effects of which must also be known. "
What is the cure for depression and anxiety of the ancient Greeks
Nicholas Kardaras is a clinical psychologist known for his outreach work in several areas: mental health, addictions and the impact of technology in today's world. One of his most successful publications was undoubtedly How Plato and Pythagoras Can Save Your Life. In this paper, presented at an American Psychological Association (APA) conference, he presented the following ideas:
- Depression and anxiety are two of the biggest health challenges today. Not only that, the World Health Organization estimates that in 2030 they will be the main health problems.
- Recent studies, such as the one conducted at King's College London (considered the most important study on anxiety and depression), indicate that between 30% and 40% of the risk of depression and anxiety is genetic, while between 60% and 70% is due to environmental factors. The latter percentage therefore depends on us and on the social measures we have at our disposal.
- The origin of these psychological disorders is not found only in our industrialized and urbanized lifestyle. We are also losing sight of our existential priorities, our goals ... We seek happiness in products of planned obsolescence.
We are isolating ourselves more and more, we are a hyperconess society that, however, feels more alone than ever.
Works such as the one conducted by Dr. Steven Ilardi, a psychologist at the University of Kansas, reveal another very interesting aspect. Some populations, such as the Kaluli in Papua New Guinea, have a null or non-existent index of depression. In these places the population adopts a very simple philosophy of life that allows them to enjoy greater well-being.
From our part, we have at hand the cure for depression and anxiety handed down to us by the ancient Greeks. Formerly enunciated by Pythagoras, it is known as bios pythagorikos. Let's see what it is.
Diet rich in omega 3
Omega 3 fatty acids are contained in foods such as walnuts, olive oil, salmon, chia seeds. Curiously, many current studies reveal that these fatty acids act as genuine neuroprotectors.
Regular physical activity
The gymnasium in Ancient Greece was an institution dedicated to physical and spiritual education. One area was therefore linked to the other. Nowadays, we often neglect the importance of training our body, keeping it active, enjoying enough vitality to tune into our surroundings, nature and ourselves.
Be in harmony with sunlight
Another essential element in the cure for depression and anxiety of the ancient Greeks. If we think about it, we are losing this bond. We are surrounded by artificial light, emitted by our offices and electronic devices. This light harms our rest and, consequently, our health. Rather, we will have to expose ourselves to sunlight, adjust our schedules so as not to lose the connection with the cycles of nature.
Engage in activities that prevent negative thoughts
The ancient Greeks were wise in matters of joy and relaxation, as well as cultivating fantastic pleasures with which to fight worries. It is not necessary to delve into hedonism, but, yes, allow us to enjoy a few hours during which to devote ourselves to our pastimes, feel free, cheerful and creative.
In the cure for depression and anxiety, the ancient Greeks certainly included this interesting activity. Dialectics is the art of comparing, listening, discussing, relativizing, learning, renewing ideas, discovering resolutions… It implies, first of all, having fulfilling social contacts that bring us new perspectives, that challenge us with their energy, vitality and optimism.
The pillars of the "Greek cure" for depression couldn't be simpler. More than a first aid kit, it is an invitation to create a new lifestyle: generate a project to be the protagonists to pursue and work on our well-being. We invite you to reflect on it.