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Depression is a disease of civilization: Stephen Ilardi at TEDxEmory

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Dr. Stephen Ilardi is a professor of clinical psychology and the author of The Depression Cure: The 6-Step Program to Beat Depression Without Drugs. He earned his Ph.D. in clinical psychology from Duke University in 1995, and has since served on the faculties of the University of Colorado and (presently) the University of Kansas. The author of over 40 professional articles on mental illness, Dr. Ilardi is a nationally recognized expert on depression. His work has been honored by the American Psychological Association's prestigious Blau Award for early career contributions to the field, and his research on the neuroscience of depression has been funded by the National Institutes of Mental Health (NIMH). Dr. Ilardi has also received several major teaching awards in recognition of his dynamic, engaging classroom presence. Recently, he was selected from a pool of over 2,000 instructors as the recipient of the school's highest instructional honor, the HOPE Award for teaching excellence. He also maintains an active clinical practice, and has treated several hundred depressed patients over the course of his career. Dr. Ilardi lives in Lawrence, Kansas with his wife, Maria and daughter, Abby. - In the spirit of ideas worth spreading, TEDx is a program of local, self-organized events that bring people together to share a TED-like experience. At a TEDx event, TEDTalks video and live speakers combine to spark deep discussion and connection in a small group. These local, self-organized events are branded TEDx, where x = independently organized TED event. The TED Conference provides general guidance for the TEDx program, but individual TEDx events are self-organized.* (*Subject to certain rules and regulations)
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Text Comments (2399)
Ascendant Madness (2 days ago)
You know what all of those lifestyle changes boil down to, even the fishing? Novelty. We evolved as a species in every way to be able to adapt. Now that our lives generally only change in minute amounts (as in which buttons to push to create outcomes), our entire beings are railing against the hierarchical, stagnant social structure and what our daily lives are comprised of. We are surrounded by and drawn to constant mental distractions because it simulates the novelty of a hunter-gatherer life. Even the lifestyle changes mentioned are but a pale comparison to our evolutionary needs. Exercise becomes habitual, as does everything else on that list. I've had trouble with depression since I was six years old, even when I met every single one of the criteria he listed. Soccer nearly everyday for nine years in the Texas sun (indoor and out), my favorite foods were sushi and oysters, around people most of the day (though I rarely enjoyed other children's company). All of the "healthy" things mentioned I did for the majority of my childhood. Though to be honest, I never liked other people. Why does he skip the entire existence of INTROVERTS, while insisting that everyone needs more social time? That is patently false. What he's missing in his talk is the deeper point. It isn't a list. It's just novelty. Of course as a product of Western education he will tend to compartmentalize and try to isolate factors but no amount of testing can point to the broader behavioral patterns of our society as a whole. The whole point of modern science is isolating variables when our reality is completely interrelated. It's all just novelty - body and mind require it.
Toughen Up, Fluffy (3 days ago)
If you watch it at 1.5X he doesn't run out of time. :0)
A H (5 days ago)
If depression is an illness then why do I feel bad about being happy at funerals or losing a job ECT...?
Harmonica Man (9 days ago)
The statement "we were never designed" should end at that. Then you can talk about the rest.
Aidan Schaefer (9 days ago)
Where’s the youngest of us the teens the pre teens the kids adults aren’t the only people with depression and that’s the worst problem and it wasn’t even covered
Wildflower3328 (11 days ago)
The IPC reported that by year 2030 the world’s climate would have warmed 1.5C and only drastic changes to our growth frenzied capitalist economies would perhaps mitigate that number. The Kalulis will probably survive the collapse of civilization just fine. I predict that the next great emigration will be to hunter and gatherers time while the suicide numbers spike exponentially! Hey, but aren’t you guys happy now that Amazon raised its minimum wage to $15 an hour and that Facebook has an awesome FaceTime portal for real human connectivity?
brandnew new (17 days ago)
3:39 left unchecked can cause brain damage
Harish Janghra (19 days ago)
all you people who think u arfe on top cause the death of these people, that includes u on the stage
D Fine (19 days ago)
So how come there's people in the modern world who never get clinical depression?
Elizabeth B (19 days ago)
I already knew pretty much everything he said and I can do most of the things he recommends, although it is hard. The only thing I can't achieve is social connection. Once you go down a path of isolation it's very hard to get out of it. All the other recommendations are straightforward but social connection isn't. I really don't know how to do it anymore. It's just so hard putting yourself out there all the time only to be disappointed. People seem to already have good relationships. It seems like I'm the only one who's isolated so I don't want to be bother people if they're already happy with their relationships.
Mind YourOwn (20 days ago)
Not a fan of psychiatric medicine.
Nirmiti Bl (22 days ago)
Excellent & Helpful for epidemic depression disease of new era.
Rich Henkle (23 days ago)
Superb. I was not into the pleistocene comments, I see them as theoretical. But the factual historical connection of the change of mankind from hunter gatherer and agricultural societies to Industrial and Information age and modern stress, sedentary societies was superb research. The Solutions he gives are noble and worthy of use in every treatment center today to beat back the epidemic of depression. He and his team should get a damn Medal...!
BulletTheEnforcer (25 days ago)
The power went out where I live as a result of Hurricane Florence. I am further inland and live in an elevated area, so we didn't experience much flooding, but we were without power for almost three days. During that time, my sleep quality remarkably improved, my anxiety changed: I was more concerned about what my family and I were going to eat than I was about problems in other parts of the world, and a lot of body aches I normally experienced vanished. I had to limit the use of my smartphone to emergency updates over Facebook for concerned friends and family members. I had to take cold showers and read by candlelight, but I felt like a kid again. I was experiencing emotions I hadn't felt in literally fifteen years. As soon as the power came back on, I was thankful for central air and other modern conveniences, but I felt my old discontentment creeping back in. I don't like any of the things I used to love anymore; it's like I am slowly dying inside. Because of where I live and my income, it's difficult for me to exercise. Mostly, I just feel confused and numb; furthermore, I can't feel things that I once felt, and I know those feelings are still there, but they appear to bubble to the surface at the most inconvenient times. I want to be me again, but I am not sure who that is anymore. The world just appears to be unfriendly, dangerous, and filled with equally hurt and angry people.
Black&White (27 days ago)
*Western-World's Curse:* Have everything, feel like nothing! Soft life has really messed you. How about this..? From now on your annual semester is sharing life with the locals in some 3rd world village.
Black&White (27 days ago)
*Western-World's Curse:* Have everything, feel like nothing! Soft life has really messed you. How about this..? From now on your annual semester is sharing life with the locals in some 3rd world village.
Khadijah Kay Aminu (29 days ago)
Woww best talk ever.. 💖 Thank you 🙏🏾
Khadijah Kay Aminu (29 days ago)
Woww best talk ever.. 💖 Thank you 🙏🏾
cmclaybird214 (1 month ago)
Im laying in my room crying watching this hanging on
Ja Ja (1 month ago)
When the righteous are in authority, the people rejoice: but when the wicked beareth rule, the people mourn. Demand better 'Leaders" !
jodo1971 (1 month ago)
Western medicine is sham! Does more harm than help. Why are doctors so unconcerned with your eating and your exercise ?
Christina (1 month ago)
He is not talking about the illness of depression he is talking about a down mood due to situational circumstances...depression is an entirely different beast not unlike schizophrenia...these are serious illnesses not lifestyle issue ...ask any psychiatrist they have a much deeper insight and much more intense/ longer education and they would never agree with any of this...it's neuro chemisty and it needs to be treated with meds or ECT. go to any mental hospital and that is what they do- treat with meds always and not even bother with psychology for good reason ..it doesn't work and it can't for people with chronic or severe depression...psychology is for those that have life issues or very mild depression only.
Christina (1 month ago)
It has nothing to do with lifestyle lol otherwise everyone would be depressed...they were treating it since ancient Greece when there was no internet etc..all up throughout the middle ages and victorian period .sylvia plath / Van Gogh/ joan of arc/ winston churchill / lincoln...endless figures throughout history.. ...it always existed and always will... it mostly has to do with childhood trauma / neglect/ abuse that just screws up the neurochemistry in the brain later in life ..if you had a good childhood it acts as a buffer against any future traumas so you can bounce back. medication or ECT is the only solution for severe depression or even chronic dysthymia..that or you become a drug addict or alcoholic/ and usually eventually commit suicide.
Alexander Ross (1 month ago)
Depression exists in animals too. We keep forgetting that. But the same things that animals get depressed about, humans don't get depressed about; at least looking inward from an outside perspective. When we actually look at the root cause of depression, it begins to make sense. Animals get depressed when their mother was seen killed in front of them, or get depressed when they have their child eaten. They see that and feel a loss. These are real reasons for depression. And it happens the same way in humans; when humans experience loss, we go into depression. Animals will jump off cliffs, bite themselves, or remain passive around a predator; these are natural responses to depression; the animal has no concept of suicide, yet does everything to endanger itself when it's depressed. We see the same thing with humans, except humans have the capacity to understand what they're doing. It makes me think "How could an animal evolve such a behavior", and it begins to make sense once you understand that mammals are social animals. We're designed to thrive in society. Depression does more good than bad for group animals, because it makes the ostracized ones (Maybe they're deformed or have a medical condition) be passive towards their own death. This is an advantage in a lot of animal species, because it means that only the fittest individuals will both have the mental and physical resources to continue to breed. Humans don't have the same connections as animals do. We've given up an active life for a life behind a screen, but more importantly, and regardless whether we're outside or not, we've given up on socialization. There is no family dynamic anymore; as soon as a child reaches 18, they become autonomous; they see new faces every day; the population, to us, is replaceable, and I think that's a big problem. Meaning in life can only be attributed to how we treat others; and because we don't have anyone in our lives to treat well/bad, we have no meaning.
Chara Choppel (1 month ago)
Western lifestyle? Foods, carbohydrates? Any more illness factors in the Western lifestyle?
reinux (1 month ago)
Huh, this is pretty much what Dr. Greger says.
mukunda (1 month ago)
Is depression really growing or is it being diagnosed more often due to increased awareness.
Paula nacari (1 month ago)
I do believe that depression does come from not living the life we want, insecurity, not meeting our needs. Most of us want to risk it all and live life how we imagine but would require us to start from 0 and lose what we have. But the risk can fix depression. Live your life experience things ignore social media.
Eslyn Baird (1 month ago)
The information is valid and and precise.
Juan Bermudez (1 month ago)
The more advanced a country is, they more suicides and depression they have, example: Japan. So what he's saying is totally true. Our current cultures and life styles are just making this problem way bigger than it should be.
Bel LoCam (1 month ago)
I just really need a hug right now...
TheTruthSeeker (1 month ago)
People are depressed because the people around them are terrible, godless, narsisists who are constantly on their phones avoiding others. Humans are like little spoiled babies. It's a loveless world. That's why people are depressed, or sad. Good people are sad because they expect more
Zack Harper (1 month ago)
haha...their is a pill in that form Stephen...its called ritalin
DeathAngel (1 month ago)
i had a "mid-life" crisis at 12.
Yami Le (1 month ago)
lwc1029 (1 month ago)
Don't blame civilization or other people. No need to study Papua New Guineas (OK, bad humor). Many people do lead decent and healthy lives in civilized and developed countries. Study them if that's your thing. Don't connect for connection sake. Only genuine and sincere ones matter. Anything toxic that you feel or sensitive to is best avoided. Your belly/abdomen/stomach/gut is the best judge if something is toxic. Never trust only your eyes.
wim lammens (1 month ago)
this talk confirms what I discovered recently working in a building where elderly people live together and suffer mostley loniliness being seperated from the people that really matter(their children and grandchildren and great grand children. When looking dead in the eye approaching fast you realise this western life style is only leading to unhappiness and emotional and physical suffering. This life style is killing our souls and putting all other species close to extinction. in 2 century's we have grown like a virus and consumed all resources and species and forests.
Rasim Shah (1 month ago)
Try CBD oil. It kinda works
Jane DeLeon (1 month ago)
I'm depressed 😢
Jane DeLeon (1 month ago)
I'm depressed 😢
Jane DeLeon (1 month ago)
I'm depressed 😢
Jane DeLeon (1 month ago)
I'm depressed 😢
Joe Kelly (1 month ago)
thanks very much , very good
jyoti singh (1 month ago)
this person really does understand what it's like
Michael A Regenfuss (1 month ago)
Wow! I agree with everything he says. The solution he's talking about has a lot to do with something called human rewilding.
Bulletproof Diamond WINSTAR (1 month ago)
This talk is informative, but I;m not sure if everything applies to me. I've taken Kpop dance lessons and eventually a one-year training program, but having no friends out of it and the low views on my YT violin/dance covers have worsened my depression. Well I guess dancing for fun helps with depression, but dance practice for covers is more than exercise, as I'm constantly trying to create fine products. Having made no friends from dancing and having low YT views are more social problems than exercise problems. About diets, I actually get some relief from depression about eating delicious foods which include meat! I guess getting more Omega-3 could make me better though. Also, about having face-time with closed ones, living with my parents doesn't help too much if I 'm socially disconnected and desperate to move to my dream country for my dream career and social life.
Justin Cross (1 month ago)
Over the last 5 years I had begun to have increasingly withdraw into a downward spiral of depression. But these days I can really say that I wanted to live and help a lot of people by the aid of this depression remedy “fetching kafon press” (Google it). At this time, I can really say that I am free of depression.
Piotr Hobbysta (1 month ago)
Banksters, politicians and ill economic system is guilty IMO. Lack of work & over-work, unstability of job, lack of time to relax, weekends, holidays etc. In Japan "karoshi" suicides proove the role of overworking. In fact oversitting at firm and even pretending making work! But they are so long as chief is in the company, chief is no shorter that chief of the chief is there etc. It's sick
Brian Norton (1 month ago)
Its not that bad...bad things happening to you is bad
Brian Clark (1 month ago)
I got into chronic mild depression as well in the past and did not desire to speak with people.I was in treatment for it, but it didn’t really do the job and I always wondered why. Life became so excellent after I discovered this depression therapy “fetching kafon press” (Google it). Examine it to see how it can assist you!
Bob Eden (2 months ago)
“Simply Thankyou” Introduction: After more than twenty years of fighting depression, many psychologists and many psychiatrists and so many cycles of medication, this simple personal insight brought me home! To all those beautiful people who have suffered from depression I would like to say “Thankyou, Simply Thankyou” for doing such a wonderful job. Thankyou for being such beautiful and courageous messengers , such shining beacons! I hear your pain , I have felt your pain, and now I hear your message and I hear it loud and clear for your message is simply the pain of humanity and the way it has to live now. The way we are living now is so wrong, so wrong, there is so little human-ness left in the way we live. We need to change, and we need to change now! So now relax in the knowing of a job well done, your message has been heard, that there has never been anything wrong with you, you are simply a gifted messenger! I know that place you go to; that deepening, darkening tunnel, which you shuffle down with trembling knees, and your body full of terror and panic. I know that place you go to, where the tunnel ends, where your bare feet are on solid ground but your toes are dangling over nothingness, an empty abyss, and it is so dark and frightening. Then dimly just ahead there is a feint outline, misty at first, that slowly forms into a shape, a doorway, and it's only about five feet away. And I know that moment when you are rocking on the balls of your feet, trying to decide wether to jump or not. “ I wonder if I can leap across in one bound or shall I take a few steps back and take a running jump?” Then for some reason, you stop rocking and plant your heels firmly back on the ground, and from somewhere deep, deep inside you grab hold of something primal, something essential and you turn around facing back the way you came and take a deep breath. I thank you in this moment for choosing to return to life rather than taking the leap of death. All ahead is blackness and you squint your eyes and then dimly percieve a minute spec of light, so small you are not sure it is real at all. So you slowly retrace your steps, and that little spec of light gets bigger and bigger as you shuffle fearfully upwards. You are heading back to the light and it is your light, and it is getting brighter and brighter until it's the colour of Cornish Ice cream and you can feel it's warmth enfold you, and suddenly you are out of the tunnel, back in the gallery of life. So you take your light and sit down, and relax and look back at where you came from. The tunnel is gone, the entrance has been bricked over, then plastered over and some artists have painted a mural over the place honouring the purpose of the tunnel. You are Home, you are safe! Well done and Simply Thankyou! Namaste' Bob and Barnaby Eden. Woof.
George Samaras (2 months ago)
Just wait till robots come. I think i am engaging in rumination? Maybe UBI turns out for the best.
Mr.Pickles (2 months ago)
We may not be more depressed it may just be more diagnosed.
John T. Smith (2 months ago)
In a society that is totally self-absorbed how can you make me Rich or how can you make me prettier how can you make me happier why wouldn't people be depressed?
John T. Smith (2 months ago)
The drug companies love this.
Vahid Genius (2 months ago)
Paul D (2 months ago)
Depression = The Monetary System
Jorgeyy Boyy (2 months ago)
so what shall I do live in the jungle then?
Jack of Shadows (2 months ago)
I no longer feel the comfort of being sa urghhhhhhh gun. gimme gun.
Veronica Lawrence (2 months ago)
Glad you have taken a great interest in depression. Its such a very serious illness. Thanks
Steve Chavez (2 months ago)
The problem is no one wants to talk bout it
Summondadrummin (2 months ago)
The Economies which dominate the planet have as their central focus~ Money... aka the bottomline.... Not human well being, health, happiness, relationships, planetary balance and connection... Money~ which is simply a technique to use numbers to measure the value of goods and services in exchange has come to rule over all major societal decisions everywhere and the fixation and narrowness of this focus driven by one essentially simple technique is bringing us into a state of major global imbalance.Not surprisingly this wildly out of balance economic scheme is driving many people to be depressed. Its an honest response to what is an increasingly unhealthy pattern of living. If we want a healthy people and planet our societies must be based on the views and practices of healthy economic ideas.
OCPTheory (2 months ago)
So theoretically people with physically demanding jobs would be less likely to be depressed? Doesn't seem right to me.
adspeed7292005 (2 months ago)
This presentation is depressing and robbing me of my will to live.
raredesertflower 1 (2 months ago)
I want to move to New Zealand.
Sabah Amal (2 months ago)
Sooooo true! Especially, this generation. High expectations, lack of gratitude, materialism, declining moral, values & respect. Isolation/loneliness, due to social media. Most of all a lack of belief in a Creator God, Jesus is the only way, life & truth. 🥀💒🇦🇺
matt g (3 months ago)
2 words: magic mushrooms
Devil's Offspring (4 days ago)
That's hardly a solution, it doesn't solve any problems. A good high once in a while is a fine pleasure, but just getting high all the time will probably bugger your life up more than it will make it better! In other words, people like being high--but in and of itself, it doesn't accomplish much.
Jay M (3 months ago)
well said, good points surfaced.
topazzsky (3 months ago)
We are over worked, deal with a pyramid scheme as a life model where a few on top do well and every level below gets more and more like slavery. Too many hours working, lack of humanity and compassion, major Disrespect on a daily basis, legal abuse, everything from bosses degrading us to our government robbing us and setting rules/laws that take advantage and are impossible to live with, barely being able to support ourselves and our families working full time jobs, no vacations or only a few weeks a year if you qualify! Humans need rest, respect, joy and balance in life! The lack of these therefore leads to a struggle to find joy or meaning in life!!! No medication is ethical!!! Humans need balance in life in everything! Humans need a say or choices in life, and I don't mean picking between A and B!!! I mean doing what's right for each of us individually without being punished!!! No one should be in charge of you to the point of devastation! We are all born on Earth! We all own it, including the creatures! We need food, water and shelter to survive!!! Yet we are not entitled to survive with a home, food and water, let alone health care!!! We have plenty of food, yet have starving! We have abandoned houses, yet homeless! Pay for water, the one thing you cant survive without! We are used, abused and taxed to death!!! Freedom is an illusion, and we label people as crazy when they've had enough and want out! Who's the crazies??? The ones that control us are!!! And we are for allowing it!!! We need to change the system! Therefore changing our well being!!! No medication needed. Just being decent and doing the right thing!!! Humanity doesn't know what Love is. They know one thing. Control. It gives them power, advantage, and worse they are a disease to the rest of us.
Crescent Tide (3 months ago)
Devil's Offspring (4 days ago)
In all fairness, they *do* work for some people. It isn't up to you to tell everyone to "say no" to them. They have to try them for themselves, because it seems that just about everybody reacts differently to them. If you got hit by a car, would you advise the whole world to "say no" to driving?
camilla kerr (3 months ago)
his book saved my life..if you read this thankyou dr.stephen!!
Sean VV (3 months ago)
Just because you preach well doesn't make you intelligent. Just stop kid.
Wonder Women (3 months ago)
That one point with humans needing other humans that they like around them actually explains why i oftten feel down during weekends and longer periods of time without school. My family often just makes me feel bad about myself and in general, with my sister being always very judgemental and my mom not taking me / my problems serious.
Verity B (3 months ago)
People who do physical jobs are more likely to be on time, people who always run late have adapted to it for the serotonin dopamine rush... Fact of life no.42
Brooke Isabelle (3 months ago)
What a charismatic and well-spoken man. I could listen to him for ages.
Jillian M (2 months ago)
I believe civilization is a one in one octillion phenomenon that is everything between a miracle and a worst case scenario.
Disturbing Satan came for a message (3 months ago)
how do i sign up too your treatment. Here we only have medicine :( I dont want medeicine
Disturbing Satan came for a message (3 months ago)
humans needs to go back to their roots. Modern mone drived society make us depressed
grimble (3 months ago)
To have all these corporate nerd specialists with their computerized facts and statistics as if life is all about sales figures, does not help much. It's so empty, I want to die myself.
Goonwood (3 months ago)
Can anyone tell me why DHA and EPA are out of balance if both are found naturally in our foods? I can't find info online explaining which foods are high in one and not the other.
TheInfantry98 (3 months ago)
This is why I was happiest during intense field training as a Infantrymen rather than soft boring civilian life.
TheInfantry98 (3 months ago)
Damn my generation has the highest rates of depression!!!
TheInfantry98 (3 months ago)
I know exactly how the flight and fight response feels like from combat.
CreationTribe (3 months ago)
Typical dystopian blindness: Take a pill - fall in line - instead of actually fixing what's wrong with this diseased world.
David Geffeney (3 months ago)
Corporate america is killing America(ns). Think about it.
ProtegeJoy32 (3 months ago)
Can someone please link his sources? Thanks!
gabriella francis (3 months ago)
Having depression is like a fish out of water, struggling with your life, just hoping that you would die. You'll feel all kind of negative things. Hopeless, useless, good for nothing.
goku son (3 months ago)
This ted talk saved my life. Im now aware that my depression is simply a result of habit, lifestyle and experiences. I feel happier to know that if I make a lifestyle change that I can improve my health
Dibodiib 5 (3 months ago)
Michela Mangiaracina (3 months ago)
We are disconnected from nature, both that outside of us and that within us.
Madcap Crux (3 months ago)
Well that's depressing...
The TROLL (3 months ago)
Depression is for people who have too much time in their hands for wasting away
Billy Fitch (3 months ago)
There's three types of people in this world, Those who don't have the ability to see the truth, those who bury there head in the sand, and those with mental illness.
Paul Scussel (3 months ago)
Out of time? It would have been nice to see the presentation in its entirety.
Cutieeepink (3 months ago)
My boyfriend is seriously under depression, it doesn't let him do what he wants to do. I really hope we will get over it.
Edwina Lee (3 months ago)
I cannot agree that it is a disease of civilisation. Rather, it is a disease of the current state of American society. It cannot possibly be mentally healthy to grow up in a society where, for example :- [1] Gun violence and adults respond by pulling out the 2nd Amendment; [2] A pretoria of lies & conflicts which devalue truth for political, religious, commercial purposes; or simply voices of ignorance in an ocean of data; So, would sleep, exercise & vitamins reverse this massive problem? It would help, but the roots of the problem need to be tackled.
Kung Fu Jiu Jitsu Flip Trick (3 months ago)
Huh it's like babyboomers cared more about themselves than their kids gen-x and gen-y.
Horsewithnoname (4 months ago)
All these videos on life improving ideas keep me stuck looking at an electronic device which is leading me into depression so I say Disconnect is best and reconnect with the natural world....and more Petting or getting a pet.
Traci Davis (4 months ago)
I think he's not correct. I think it's leprechaun farts causing depression. They're invisible so it's been hard for science to identify them as the activating factor.
Marty McFly (4 months ago)
the root cause of depression: THE MODERN MONETARY/ECONOMIC SYSTEM - it all comes down to that. You can argue anything else and defend your precious "-ism" but you are only fooling yourself. F*cking sheeple.