How Did People Treat Depression in Ancient Times?

Depression is a serious mental illness that affects millions of people worldwide. It can be debilitating, and those who suffer from it often require professional help to manage their symptoms.

But what about depression in ancient times? How did people treat this condition before modern medicine and mental health practices? Let’s take a look.

Ancient Treatments for Depression

Depression has been documented throughout history, and there are many references to it in ancient texts. In fact, some of the earliest known medical texts, such as the Egyptian Ebers Papyrus (1550 BCE), describe treatments for “melancholia,” which is believed to have been a form of depression.

One common treatment for depression in ancient times was bloodletting. This practice involved deliberately cutting the skin to let blood flow out of the body. It was believed that this would restore balance to the body’s humors (fluids) and alleviate symptoms of depression.

Other Treatments

Other treatments for depression in ancient times included herbal remedies, such as St. John’s Wort, which is still used today as a natural antidepressant. Opium was also used to treat depression in some cultures, although this was often accompanied by negative side effects.

In some cases, religious or spiritual practices were used to treat depression. For example, ancient Greeks believed that depression could be caused by an imbalance between the gods and mortals. As a result, they would perform rituals or make offerings to appease the gods and restore balance.

The Stigma Surrounding Depression

It’s important to note that attitudes towards mental illness were very different in ancient times compared to today. There was often a great deal of stigma surrounding conditions like depression, and those who suffered from them were often ostracized or even persecuted.

In some cultures, people with mental illness were thought to be possessed by demons or evil spirits. This led to cruel and inhumane treatments, such as exorcisms or even torture.

The Importance of Modern Treatments

Thankfully, we’ve come a long way since ancient times when it comes to treating depression. Today, there are many effective treatments available for those who suffer from this condition, including medication, therapy, and support groups.

It’s important to seek help if you or someone you know is struggling with depression. With the right treatment, it is possible to manage the symptoms of this condition and live a fulfilling life.


Depression has been around for centuries, and people in ancient times had their own unique ways of treating this condition. While many of these treatments may seem barbaric by today’s standards, it’s important to remember that they were created with the best intentions.

Today, we have access to a wide range of effective treatments for depression that are based on modern science and research. With the right care and support, those who suffer from this condition can lead happy and healthy lives.