How Would Epicurus Account For Depression? - Main Thread

  • Jimmy Daltrey February 22 at 10:58am How would Epicurus account for depression?

    Alexander Rios A disturbed soul (nervous system). A confused soul. A corrupted (miseducated) soul. Nature made. See the letter to Menoeceus. See OTNOT on how Nature makes monsters. See how all men cannot be brought to wisdom.
    Like · Reply · 4 · February 22 at 2:04pm · Edited


    Jimmy Daltrey I read the letter, is he saying the depressed should simply kill themselves?
    Like · Reply · February 22 at 11:17am



    Hiram Crespo

    Hiram Crespo The 25 th book On Nature deals w moral development and discusses neuroplasticity, including E's view that we should change the structure of our brains. So I think E would encourage practices along those lines that have been shown to change brain structure.
    Unlike · Reply · 4 · February 22 at 11:23am



    Alexander Rios

    Alexander Rios Epicurus is not making a blanket recommendation to suicide. Read Menoeceus again. Only life provides the opportunity for happiness. Death is the end of sensation. All good comes through sensation, and recollection of their presentations.
    Unlike · Reply · 3 · February 22 at 2:08pm · Edited



    Jimmy Daltrey

    Jimmy Daltrey Thanks, I'll look at the book. I think what I am getting at, is whether there is a therapeutic practice (beyond medication) that would enable a person to understand how they could, should, address their problem?
    Like · Reply · February 22 at 11:32am · Edited



    Jason Baker

    Jason Baker It's hard to imagine a practicing Epicurean having the company of fellow Epicureans, living according to nature, ever becoming depressed. Exercise, conviviality, cooperation, autarky... these things don't leave much room for malaise.



    Clinical depression is another thing entirely. Pharmacological intervention would likely be necessary before Epicurean philosophy would be of any benefit.
    Unlike · Reply · 2 · February 22 at 11:34am



    Jimmy Daltrey

    Jimmy Daltrey Jason Baker: interesting, however how many Epicureans live in Epicurean communities? I get the point though, it would make for amazing therapy.
    Like · Reply · 1 · February 22 at 11:37am



    Hiram Crespo

    Hiram Crespo That is true. There are cases that require medical attention. But neuroplasticity shows that long term change is possible so we have to continue supporting the study of nature - scientific research in this regard.
    Like · Reply · 3 · February 22 at 11:38am



    Alexander Rios

    Alexander Rios Even a depressed person will benefit from practicing all the techniques that Epicurus recommends, such as detecting and avoiding false beliefs, understanding desires and their categories, understanding decision making, understanding reasoning and learn...See More
    Unlike · Reply · 6 · February 22 at 11:58am · Edited



    Jason Baker

    Jason Baker You're sitting in the midst of a virtual community, Jimmy! Not quite the same effect as a physical community, but it has therapeutic value all the same, particularly that frankness that some confuse for unfriendliness. 1f609.png;)
    Unlike · Reply · 3 · February 22 at 11:41am



    Elli Pensa

    Elli Pensa Jimmy Daltrey who was that philosopher that killed himself ...Epicurus ??? NO ! Zeno died around 264 BC. Laertius reports about his death: "As he left the school, he tripped, fell and broke a toe. Hitting the ground with his hand, he cited words of Niobe: "I am coming, why do you call me thus?" Since the Stoic sage was expected to always do what was appropriate (kathekon) and Zeno was very old at the time, he felt it appropriate to die and consequently strangled himself.
    Unlike · Reply · 2 · February 22 at 11:59am



    Elli Pensa

    Elli Pensa - Epicurus : And so he who advises a young man to live well, and an old man to die well, is a simpleton, not only because life is desirable for both the young and the old, but also because the wisdom to live well is the same as the wisdom to die well. (letter to Menoeceus)
    Unlike · Reply · 3 · February 22 at 12:00pm



    Jimmy Daltrey

    Jimmy Daltrey Elli Pensa, honestly not interested in discussing Stoics. What is the obsession?
    Like · Reply · 1 · February 22 at 12:06pm



    Alexander Rios

    Alexander Rios Also Diogenes's Epicurean Inscription is therapeutic...

    It starts as follows......See More
    Unlike · Reply · 3 · February 22 at 12:40pm · Edited



    Elli Pensa

    Elli Pensa Jimmy Daltrey Excuse me, this is not an obsession. It is an answer in your question when you said : "I read the letter, is he (Epicurus) saying the depressed should simply kill themselves?"

    Where Epicurus says that ? Why are you drawing so rapid concl...See More
    Unlike · Reply · 2 · February 22 at 12:34pm



    Jimmy Daltrey

    Jimmy Daltrey I'm sorry Elli Pensa, I'm English and if I want to know something, I ask. It has nothing to do with Socrates. If this group is only for people who already know all there is to know, should I leave? I was quiet enjoying the exchange. Perhaps I misunderstood this "Much worse is he who says that it were good not to be born, but when once one is born to pass quickly through the gates of Hades. For if he truly believes this, why does he not depart from life? It would be easy for him to do so once he were firmly convinced" Alexander Rios directed me to the letter.
    Like · Reply · 1 · February 22 at 12:44pm · Edited



    Alexander Rios

    Alexander Rios So there, Epicurus is saying that life is preferable, even to that person that says that death is preferable. If they were really convinced they wouldn't be alive now saying so.
    Unlike · Reply · 4 · February 22 at 12:51pm · Edited



    Jimmy Daltrey

    Jimmy Daltrey I read it as an exhortation for the miserable to end it all. He says "why does he not", not "why has he not", "would be easier", not "would have been easier"
    Like · Reply · February 22 at 12:57pm



    Alexander Rios

    Alexander Rios ok. Epicurus is mostly pro-life. Even when old and very sick, he made the best of every moment by continued practice, until his last moment.
    Unlike · Reply · 3 · February 22 at 2:07pm · Edited



    Jose Torres

    Jose Torres Nicely done.
    Like · Reply · 1 · February 22 at 2:01pm



    Jason Baker

    Jason Baker Jimmy Daltrey, translations and secondary sources have their bugbears. Several members here have collected multiple translations together for study on their web pages outside of FB and published their reasonings on most topics of interest. We're working to make that more accessible to the masses, but in the meantime questions are best framed after studying the material. The premises of many questions dissolve away entirely after doing so.
    Like · Reply · 1 · February 22 at 4:12pm



    Cassius Amicus

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    Elli Pensa

    Elli Pensa Against the depression Epicurus said in greek : «παρεγγυῶν τὸ συνεχὲς ἐνέργημα ἐν φυσιολογίᾳ καί τοιούτῳ μάλιστα ἐγγαληνίζων τῷ βίῳ» that means “I recommend constant activity in the study of Nature and this way more than any other I bring calm to my life". For this purpose, he introduced Κανονικὸν (Canonikon), an empirical methodology of inquiry consisting of observation by the senses and drawing inferences for the unknown based on analogies with the observed. This approach made Epicurean philosophy very comprehensive and among all ancient philosophies by far the most compatible with modern scientific findings. Modern scientific findings means the science of medicine that has a field that is called "Endocrinology" that diagnoses and treats diseases of the endocrine organs or dysregulation of hormones homeostasis.



    The major hormones that create happy feelings are (many of the ones below also act as neurotransmitters):

    • ACETYLCHOLINE: Alertness, memory, sexual performance, appetite control, release of growth hormone.

    • DOPAMINE: Feelings of bliss and pleasure, euphoric, appetite control, controlled motor movements, feel focused.

    • ENDORPHINS: Mood elevating, enhancing, euphoric. The more present, the happier you are! Natural pain killers.

    • ENKEPHALINS: Restrict transmission of pain, reduce craving, reduce depression.

    • GABA (Gamma Amino Butyric Acid): Found throughout central nervous system, anti-stress, anti-anxiety, anti-panic, anti-pain; Feel calm, maintain control, focus.

    • MELATONIN: “Rest and recuperation” and “anti-aging” hormone. Regulates body clock.

    • NOREPINEPHRINE: Excitatory, feel happy, alert, motivated. Anti-depressant, appetite control, energy, sexual arousal.

    • OXYTOCIN: Stimulated by Dopamine. Promotes sexual arousal, feelings of emotional attachment, desire to cuddle.

    • PHENYLETHYLMINE (PEA): Feelings of bliss, involved in feelings of infatuation (high levels found in chocolate).

    • SEROTONIN: Promotes and improves sleep, improves self esteem, relieves depression, diminishes craving, prevents agitated depression and worrying.
    Unlike · Reply · 7 · February 22 at 11:29am · Edited



    Jimmy Daltrey

    Jimmy Daltrey Cool, where does he say this?
    Like · Reply · February 22 at 11:33am



    Jason Baker

    Jason Baker Letter to Herodotus.
    Unlike · Reply · 3 · February 22 at 11:38am



    Cassius Amicus

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    Elli Pensa

    Elli Pensa In his Canon says this and that. As he gave to the DOCTORS his CANON and this was, is and will be THEIR TOOL and THEIR METHOD to search and confirm (with their senses and their experiment) what is the people's disfunction in the hormones.
    Unlike · Reply · 2 · February 22 at 11:42am · Edited



    Luke Kelly

    Luke Kelly There isn't anyone who wouldn't benefit from Epicurean teaching, but in general philosophy is no better for mental illnesses such as depression than it is for physical ailments like a broken leg.
    Like · Reply · 1 · February 22 at 12:02pm



    Elli Pensa

    Elli Pensa Luke Kelly I disagree with you and your example of a broken leg. When the body suffers the soul suffers too and vice versa. The epicurean philosophy is confirmed by the recent scientific findings in the field of the psychotherapy and psychiatry.



    I ha...See MoreImage may contain: text



    Like · Reply · 2 · February 22 at 12:16pm · Edited

    Cassius Amicus

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    Shana HT

    Shana HT Stop treating depression as a mental thing, when its a physical one. its all brain chemistry.



    pre civilized cultures had almost no incidence due to omega 3 rich diet and physical work throuout day.



    heal it like any disease, with right medicine, food and excercise.



    After going through post partum depression, this is what I learned.



    no mumbo jumbo, straight up heal the body
    Like · Reply · 1 · February 22 at 12:11pm



    Jimmy Daltrey

    Jimmy Daltrey There is a clear interplay between thought (which is physical, chemical and electrical) and brain structure and therapy can and does change brain chemistry and structure. That is just science...
    Like · Reply · 1 · February 22 at 12:34pm



    Alexander Rios

    Alexander Rios The Epicurean soul is the nervous system. So yes, it is physical. The brain, peripheral nervous system, sensors...
    Like · Reply · 3 · February 22 at 3:25pm



    Jimmy Daltrey

    Jimmy Daltrey I don't think an immaterial Soul became popular until a lot later. St Paul appears to have thought that the soul was physical, hence the resurrection of dead bodies to everlasting life not a spiritual afterlife (not a Christian btw)
    Like · Reply · February 22 at 6:39pm



    Cassius Amicus

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    Alexander Rios

    Alexander Rios The soul (nervous system) is part of the body. A confused, troubled, or corrupted (miseducated) soul can benefit from Epicurean advice just like a blessed soul can. Yes, nutrition is a part of health, as are other things, and events...
    Like · Reply · 2 · February 22 at 12:17pm · Edited



    Ilkka Vuoristo

    Ilkka Vuoristo I'd say he would account it as a medical condition that you should seek a doctor for.
    Unlike · Reply · 3 · February 22 at 12:53pm



    Jimmy Daltrey

    Jimmy Daltrey So Epicureanism makes no therapeutic claims? (I really should read up and come back). Does it propose simply propose pleasure as a means to happiness rather than providing a path? Surely advising people to not fear God and death shows that he believes that there is an ideal condition (happiness) to be attained by improvement (addressing fears)
    Like · Reply · February 22 at 1:17pm



    Alexander Rios

    Alexander Rios We are not legally licensed to treat clinical depression, or suicidal thoughts. We can give advice as friends and not as a substitute for medical experts. Don't sue us.



    1f642.png:)
    Unlike · Reply · 3 · February 22 at 1:29pm · Edited



    Jimmy Daltrey

    Jimmy Daltrey I'm fine Alexander, just thinking through the implications of a philosophy based on happiness for the unhappy.
    Like · Reply · 1 · February 22 at 1:33pm



    Ilkka Vuoristo

    Ilkka Vuoristo Depression is NOT unhappiness, and should not be treated as such. Depression is an imbalance in the brain chemistry of a person. Unhappiness is the imbalance of pleasure and pain in the life of a person.



    It may be true that an informed pursuit of pleasures can help a person with depression, but it should not be the only treatment.
    Unlike · Reply · 3 · February 22 at 2:10pm · Edited



    Jimmy Daltrey

    Jimmy Daltrey Cognitive treatments appear to work well on depression. Brain chemistry is certainly affected by experience.
    Like · Reply · February 22 at 2:16pm



    Jason Baker

    Jason Baker Cognitive treatments may work well but depression research is still in its infancy and therapeutic philosophy may not be the solution for everyone. The tetrapharmakos is strong stuff, but it's no panacea. We're not homeopaths. 1f609.png;)



    Personalized medicine may eventually define depression so narrowly that it's not used colloquially like it is today. In the meantime, we have to be very clear with our definitions in order to avoid confusion.
    Like · Reply · 1 · February 22 at 4:25pm · Edited



    Cassius Amicus

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    Alexander Rios

    Alexander Rios Yes. EP is fine for everyone, but if you think you're clinically depressed, or if you're suicidal then please see a doctor, just as you would do if you broke your leg.
    Unlike · Reply · 4 · February 22 at 1:10pm



    Matt Jackson

    Matt Jackson I agree with Ilkka and Alexander, the philosophy is designed for a normally functioning brain to seek pleasure and happiness. However if there is a physical and chemical abnormality then the person will not be helped by any philosophy and can only be treated clinically.
    Unlike · Reply · 3 · February 22 at 1:21pm



    Jimmy Daltrey

    Jimmy Daltrey However it offers improvement for normal people? I suppose if you were already happy you wouldn't need Epicureanism....
    Like · Reply · 2 · February 22 at 1:32pm



    Matt Jackson

    Matt Jackson I'd say so. If a person is afraid of the supernatural and illusions offered by religion, Epicurus's teachings are designed to alleviate those fears by removing religion and superstition, of the fear of death. Once gone a person can pursue a life without needless worry.
    Unlike · Reply · 3 · February 22 at 1:35pm



    Matt Jackson

    Matt Jackson When a person realizes that we exist as animals in a completely naturalist world without any providence or fear of reprisal in the after life we get to reset the game's rules and not play the wrong way.
    Unlike · Reply · 3 · February 22 at 1:38pm



    Jimmy Daltrey

    Jimmy Daltrey So what value to an atheist? I have never feared those things.
    Like · Reply · 3 · February 22 at 1:42pm



    Matt Jackson

    Matt Jackson A continued understanding that pleasure is the highest good and that is the only thing to pursue. An atheist might consider Buddhism to be a viable option for their philosophical outlook, but Buddhism isn't seeking pleasure it seeks the middle path and detachment. So Epicurean philosophy would benefit anyone needing a life goal....pleasure.
    Unlike · Reply · 3 · February 22 at 1:46pm



    Matt Jackson

    Matt Jackson It's like ultimately once it is realized that the hedonistic calculus is all there is then pleasure should be the number one goal.
    Unlike · Reply · 3 · February 22 at 1:47pm



    Jimmy Daltrey

    Jimmy Daltrey Rich people aren't always happy...some are downright miserable.
    Like · Reply · 2 · February 22 at 1:50pm



    Matt Jackson

    Matt Jackson True so they could use a philosophy to color their life. Money doesn't equal happiness, so they need something to help illustrate how to be happy.
    Unlike · Reply · 3 · February 22 at 1:52pm



    Alexander Rios

    Alexander Rios Jimmy Daltrey

    What benefit to an atheist?

    Great question.

    Many benefits. I speak from experience. One is proper use of imagination, another is knowing that virtues and scientific mindset are tools to be used towards the goal of happy living, resetting expectations based on experience and knowledge of categories of desires... others too.
    Unlike · Reply · 4 · February 22 at 2:25pm · Edited



    Jason Baker

    Jason Baker Wealth and profligacy are mentioned directly in the principal doctrines, as well as several associated subjects, like fame and status. Philodemus wrote several books on wealth, household management, etc. The limits of pleasure are an important topic in Epicurean philosophy, perhaps even the main reason Epicurus separated himself from his philosophical forebears.
    Like · Reply · 2 · February 22 at 4:59pm · Edited



    Cassius Amicus

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    Mish Taylor

    Mish Taylor As depression can and often does involve 'Anhedonia' - loss of pleasure - A combination of medical and 'Epicurean' lifestyle is in fact what is prescribed now, mindfulness, CBT, walking / living in nature, hobbies / art / creative outlets, talking therapy, avoiding stress / doing things you enjoy & etc.
    Unlike · Reply · 4 · February 22 at 1:33pm



    Ilkka Vuoristo

    Ilkka Vuoristo Depression is NOT unhappiness, and should not be treated as such. Depression is an imbalance in the brain chemistry of a person. Unhappiness is the imbalance of pleasure and pain in the life of a person.



    It may be true that an informed pursuit of pleasures can help a person with depression, but it should not be the only treatment.
    Unlike · Reply · 6 · February 22 at 2:10pm



    Jimmy Daltrey

    Jimmy Daltrey Cognitive treatments work well on depression and experience changes brain chemistry. Who is to say depression isn't an imbalance? Some psychiatrists think that it is a cognitive response to environment.
    Like · Reply · 1 · February 22 at 2:21pm



    Jason Baker

    Jason Baker Depression is one of those words that has broadened in meaning to the point of near uselessness except in clinical circumstances. The colloquial and the technical aren't the same thing and we need to be clear which we're discussing.



    It's like curing cancer. Which one?
    Like · Reply · February 22 at 5:10pm



    Cassius Amicus

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    Haze Elle

    Haze Elle As someone who has been depressed (and contemplated suicide for the better part of a year), but isn't now, I think that there are a few things we can glean from Epicurus. 1. removal of painful stimuli. in my case, my depression was highly linked to a class and teacher that made me feel stupid and worthless. removing these helped a lot. 2. knowledge that sensations of pain end. Depression can feel all consuming, and knowing that it will end helps with they. Otherwise I echo that Epicurus would likely recommend treatment based on an investigation of the bodily and social causes of depression.
    Unlike · Reply · 5 · February 22 at 2:34pm



    Christopher Connolly

    Christopher Connolly Depression is much more complex than some folks on here seem to believe. When you are in the grip of suicidal depression you probably wouldn't give a stuff what Epicurus or anyone other philosopher thought about it. It might be all your mind can cope with to to climb off the sofa and turn the TV off.



    It can be a reaction to some sad or worrying event or it can come on for no apparent reason at all. I should think that a lifestyle which eschews hedonism in favour of more simple pleasure and is non-religious is a good defence against becoming depressed, but when it's already happened then the best treatment might be the things that Mish mentioned, or it might be medication, or it might be a combination of all of them plus the kindness of friends.
    Like · Reply · 1 · February 22 at 3:48pm



    Jason Baker

    Jason Baker I'm not entirely certain who in this discussion group believes depression is simple, the post may have been deleted or edited, can you point to a specific post that supports that premise? An important part of Epicurean inquiry into nature is the mulitiplicity of explanations for phenomena not fully explored. I don't know of any Epicurean that would claim cognition is an area of science fully explored.
    Unlike · Reply · 1 · February 22 at 4:37pm



    Christopher Connolly

    Christopher Connolly I was thinking of the opinion that depression is "a physical thing". That does seem to me to reduce the complexity of depression in an unrealistic fashion. I don't think I used the word "simple" though, Jason. Simple and complex are at different ends of the scale. There is space in between.
    Like · Reply · 1 · February 22 at 4:40pm



    Jason Baker

    Jason Baker You are absolutely correct Christopher Connolly, pardon my divergence from Epicurean multivalent logic into the Aristotlean excluded middle. Long practice has me falling into that trap from time to time.
    Unlike · Reply · 3 · February 22 at 5:03pm



    Cassius Amicus

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    Elli Pensa

    Elli Pensa <<It might be all your mind can cope with to to climb off the sofa and turn the TV off>>.

    Christopher Connolly the above action you described IMO is not an action of depression is a very good action to turn off that stupid box that called TV, then to ...See More
    Unlike · Reply · 2 · February 22 at 4:05pm



    Jimmy Daltrey

    Jimmy Daltrey That is known as the "Stop it" school of mental healthcare. It has had limited scientific results.
    Like · Reply · February 22 at 4:09pm



    Elli Pensa

    Elli Pensa There is no need of any scientific result how beneficial would be to stop watching that stupid box that is called TV. Here in Greece they are spreading terror through many programms from the morning till the late hours of the night. To not mention all the stupid stuff for horoscopes and the celebrities. To not mention movies of horror. And all these things to make you to feel stupid, ignorant and depressed.
    Unlike · Reply · 2 · February 22 at 4:18pm



    Christopher Connolly

    Christopher Connolly My experience from my last period of depression is that I lay on the sofa and watched snooker on the TV. I wasn't previously interested in snooker and I'm not really a fan now either, but at the time it was a nice, easy diversion and I found myself looking forward to it every day.



    I honestly think that getting into the snooker championship, and starting to take an interest in it (although I can't remember who won) helped to kickstart my recovery.



    So although I agree with Eli about celebs, horror and celebrities the TV can be therapeutic. It depends what's on!
    Like · Reply · 3 · February 22 at 4:44pm



    Jason Baker

    Jason Baker Jimmy Daltrey, reread what Elli wrote. Perhaps there's another way of reading it that jives with your understanding? It would be better to ask Elli Pensa if she is talking about a clinically depressed person before assuming.



    Watching television, especially alone, fulfills an unnecessary desire. Turning it off when it imbalances the hedonic scales is something a practicing Epicurean would do. A clinically depressed person isn't likely able to perform the calculus, intervention of some sort is required in that case. Epicurean philosophy places a lot of weight on friendship as a mechanism for healthy living. This is definitely a circumstance where the support of a friend is warranted.



    Christopher Connolly, thanks for sharing that personal experience. It just goes to show that the hedonic calculus is a very personal thing and is going to be different for different people, times and places. The methodology of performing that calculus is going to be the same but the results will vary given different circumstances. I'm glad you were able to find a way out on your own!
    Unlike · Reply · 2 · February 22 at 4:56pm



    Christopher Connolly

    Christopher Connolly Thanks Jason
    Like · Reply · 2 · February 22 at 5:19pm



    Jimmy Daltrey

    Jimmy Daltrey I don't watch TV
    Like · Reply · 1 · February 22 at 6:35pm



    Jason Baker

    Jason Baker You're in good company Jimmy, if I do say so myself. 1f603.png:D
    Unlike · Reply · 1 · February 22 at 6:36pm