How Did People Deal With Depression in Ancient Times?

Depression is a mental health condition that has been around for centuries. It affects millions of people worldwide and can have a significant impact on their daily lives.

But how did ancient civilizations deal with depression? Let’s take a look at some of the methods used throughout history.

Ancient Greece

In ancient Greece, mental illness was often attributed to supernatural causes. People believed that depression was caused by an imbalance of the four humors: blood, phlegm, yellow bile, and black bile. To treat depression, physicians would try to restore balance by prescribing various treatments like bloodletting, purging, and even herbal remedies.

Ancient Egypt

In ancient Egypt, depression was believed to be caused by the evil eye or a curse. One popular treatment was to wear an amulet made from lapis lazuli or other precious stones to ward off evil spirits. Other remedies included prayer and offerings to the gods.

Ancient China

In ancient China, traditional medicine played a significant role in treating depression. Practitioners believed that depression was caused by an imbalance of energy or chi in the body. They used acupuncture and herbal remedies like ginseng and ginger to restore balance and treat symptoms.

Ancient Rome

In ancient Rome, depression was often treated with exercise and outdoor activities like walking or gardening. Physicians also prescribed various herbal remedies like St.John’s Wort and chamomile tea to alleviate symptoms.

Middle Ages

During the Middle Ages, mental illness was often associated with demonic possession or sinfulness. Many people were forced into asylums or other institutions where they were subjected to cruel treatments like chaining and confinement in small cells. However, some physicians still used herbal remedies like lavender oil or chamomile tea to treat symptoms.


Throughout history, depression has been a difficult condition to understand and treat. While some ancient remedies may seem archaic or superstitious by modern standards, they reveal the ongoing search for solutions to this pervasive problem.

Today, we have a much better understanding of depression and its treatment. Modern medicine offers a variety of options such as therapy, medication, and lifestyle changes that can help manage symptoms and improve quality of life.