Stanford’s Sapolsky On Depression in U.S. (Full Lecture)

Stanford’s Sapolsky On Depression in U.S. (Full Lecture)

[MUSIC PLAYING] Stanford University. OK, there are all sorts of
interesting diseases out there. And lots of them
are quite exotic. You’ve got elephant
man syndrome. And you’ve got progeria,
which is the disease where you basically die of old age
when you’re about 10 years old. Then you’ve got cannibals
eating brains and getting prion diseases. And those are very exciting. And they’re great, and great
junior high school papers about disease and such. Oh no, come up to the front. There’s lots of room up here. I see a couple
more seats up here. So there are all sorts of these
great made for TV movie disease out there. But when you want to come
to basic meat and potatoes of human medical misery,
there is nothing out there like depression. Depression is
absolutely crippling. Depression is incredibly
pervasive, and thus important to talk about. I’ll make the argument here
today, a number of things, but one critical thing being
that basically depression is like the worst
disease you can get. And I’ll make the argument
for that in a bit. It is devastating. It is wildly common. Current estimate are
15% of us in this room will have a major
depression at some point or other in our lives. So that is not good. What is also clear
is it is worldwide. Currently, World
Health Organization says depression is
the number four cause of disability on this planet. And by the year 2025
it’s going to number two, after obesity,
diabetes-related disorders. So it is bad news. And it is becoming more common. OK, so what I’m going to talk
about today are seemingly two very, very different
topics, and tie them together at the end. And what the main is
if you live inside only one of those topics,
you’re not going to understand this disease
at all– first topic being what does biology have
to do with depression? Second topic being, what does
psychology have to do with it? OK, so starting off, first
giving a sense of symptoms. And right off the bat, we’ve
got a systematic problem, which is we all use
the word depression in an everyday sense. You get some bad
news about something. You have to replace the
transmission in your car. Somebody disappoints
you enormously. And you feel bummed. You feel depressed. You are down for a few days. That’s not the
version of depression I’ll be talking about. Next version, you do have some
sort of large, legitimate loss, setback, whatever, losing a job,
unemployment, death of a loved one. And you are extremely impaired
by a sense of malaise for weeks afterward. And then you come
out the other end. That’s sort of what
I’ll be talking about. But even more so
what I’ll focus on is the subset of individuals
who, when something like that occurs, falls into
this depressive state. And weeks and months
later, they still have not come out the other end. Terminology– the
everyday depression that we all have now and
then, that sort of version. The second one,
the something awful happens and you feel
terrible for a while, and then come out the other
end, a reactive depression. The third version, where
you are flattened by it for long periods afterward,
a major depression. And what you also see with
people with major depression after a while is as doesn’t
take something awful externally to trigger one of those again. OK, so what are
the symptoms about? If I had to define major
depression in one sentence, I would say, it’s a lot
biochemical disorder with a genetic component, and
early experience influences, where somebody can’t
appreciate sunsets. And that’s what this
disease is about. And when you think about it,
that is a very sad thing. You look at some of our major
diseases, somebody with cancer, somebody crippled
by heart disease, and you see the most
unlikely things out there. You see somebody
saying, well, obviously I’m not glad I’m
dying of cancer. But without this
disease, I never would have realized the
importance of friends. I never would have reconciled
with my family members. I never would have found my God. On a completely weird
level, I’m almost glad this has happened to me. Humans have this
astonishing capacity to derive pleasure out of
the most unlikely domains. What could possibly be worse
than a disease whose defining symptom is the inability
to feel pleasure? Thus, at the top of the
list, anhedonia– hedonism, the pursuit of pleasure,
anhedonia the inability to feel pleasure. That is what a
depression is about. And you get someone who has just
had some enormous good luck, a long-sought relationship
works out well, whatever. And they feel
nothing, an inability to feel pleasure,
way at the top list. What else? Grief guilt, and
that’s where we’ve got the semantic
problem again, which is the everyday
sort of depression. Something happens, bums us
out, and by definition we are feeling some
version of grief. Often, we started
obsessing at that point over some miserable thing
we did somebody 12 years ago and sort of despair in that. When you’re talking
about major depression, the grief and the guilt can
be so severe that it actually takes on a delusional quality. OK, not delusional in the
sense of a schizophrenic with delusions
hearing voices thought disorder, but a certain style
with extreme depression. Let me give you an example. You have late middle aged guy,
perfectly healthy, and suddenly out of nowhere he has
a major heart attack. He’s lying there
in the hospital. And the reality is,
he’s going to recover. He’s going to have to make
some changes in his lifestyle. But he’s going to recover. He, instead, falls into
a major depression. This has transformed
his sense of who he is. Suddenly, he’s an old man. Suddenly there’s all
these things he can’t do. He falls into a
major depression. Yet, he’s recovering. Every day, his family is
in there, saying, look, you’re just depressed. You’re getting stronger. The doctors are saying
you’re getting stronger. You’re just depressed. It happens the
hospital is circular. It has a corridor that
forms a circle in it. And one day, the family
is in there saying, you’re getting stronger. Look, the nurses said
yesterday you did one loop around the hospital. And today you did two loops. You’re getting better. You’re getting stronger. And the person says, no,
no, you don’t understand. They’re doing some construction. Last night, they closed
down the outer corridor. And they opened up a new little. So the two versions of
this one, two loops there is shorter than the large one. I’m getting weaker. I’m getting weaker. I’m going to die. I’m hopeless. This is like someone
expecting to believe that last night there
were beavers digging through the walls there
making this new– this was the father of an
acquaintance of mine, a structural engineer. This is what a
structural engineer looks like when they’re
delusional to the point of saying that this is a
world in which everything is inevitably getting worse,
depression built around that. Next, of course, one
of the most dramatic and one of the most awful
symptoms of depression– self injury. Depressives mutilating
themselves at a high rate, and of course most notoriously,
suicide, risks of suicide. And that is absolutely tragic. And teenagers, early adults,
that along with accidents is the leading cause of
death– major bad news. Another set of symptoms that
wind up being informative, something called psycho
motor retardation. Everything is exhausting. It’s exhausting to do stuff. It’s exhausting think stuff. You are there. And you can’t do the laundry
because, where’s the basket? And you gotta find
change for the machine. And you’ve got to go detergent. And it’s too much. Everything is too much. And you fall into
this paralyzed state. Something very
interesting in that regard– you get
someone who is severely depressed, like to the
point of hospitalization, and when they are
absolutely crippled with psychomotor
retardation, that’s not when you worry about suicide. This is someone who’s having
enough trouble getting out of bed and getting
dressed each day. They’re not going
to figure out how to shred the hospital mattress
and make a noose out of it. Where you’ve got
your problems is when somebody
begins to get better from a severe depression. When they’re
starting to come out, that’s where the psychomotor
retardation relieves enough that suddenly they’ve
got the energy to do something catastrophic. That’s when people are
on suicide watches, when you have clinicians
who are oriented well. Next– something
really interesting, and in lots of ways
the single point I want to hammer in here
over, and over, and over, is something that people
with depression constantly battle with. Back to semantics,
we all get depressed. Bad stuff happens to us. We all get depressed. We feel lousy. We feel withdrawn. We feel a sense of grief. And we’re not taking
much pleasure. And we withdraw. And then we get better. We cope. We heal. We deal with things in life. What’s the deal with you
that you can’t do that? And there’s this lurking
sense given that all of us have periods of being depressed
and come out the other end. When you look at people who
instead go down and stay down there to this crippling
extent, there’s always this little voice between
the lines there of, come on. Pull yourself together. We all deal with
this sort of thing. I will make the
argument throughout here that depression is as real
of a biological disorder as is juvenile diabetes. And you don’t sit down a
diabetic and say, oh, come on, what’s with this insulin stuff? Stop babying yourself. Pull it together. You will see this is just as
much a biological disorder. Part of what makes that
clear are a bunch of symptoms called vegetative symptoms. The bodies of major
depressives work differently. First set of symptoms– no
surprise, lots of people have trouble
sleeping when they’re having every day off
the rack depression. There’s a certain pattern with
people with major depression. What would you think–
you’re depressed, you have trouble falling
asleep, toss and turn. That’s not what you see
with a major depressive. Instead, you wake up early. You wake up four in the
morning, five in the morning. You’re exhausted. But you’re not going to sleep. Early morning wakening– you
wind up in an emergency room somewhere deeply depressed. And the clinician there
better ask you at some point, how’s your sleep been? Do you tend to wake
up early in the day? Early morning
wakening, classic sign. Additional thing,
sleeping– sleep is not this monolithic process. There’s all these
different stages of sleep, slow wave sleep, deep
sleep, REM sleep, all of that. There’s a structure, an
architecture, to how we sleep, sort of 90-minute
cycles as you go through the different phases. You look at the brain of
somebody with depression while they’re sleeping. And these different phases
are completely disordered. The whole structure of
sleep goes down the tubes. Look at somebody when
they’re sound asleep. And their brain
sleeps differently. This is not oh, come on,
stop babying yourself. This screams biology. More versions of
it– most of us, what we do when we’re
feeling kind of down is we eat more out of
this general belief that when you feel
unloved carbohydrates make you feel better. And bizarrely, there’s actually
a brain chemistry of it of carbohydrates decrease
stress hormone release. So for most of us,
you’re feeling bummed out about things, you eat more. That’s not what you see in
major depression– decreased appetite. Another thing you
see is activation of the stress response. A class of stress hormones
are highly elevated in people with major depression. You also have
over-activation of something that’s called the sympathetic
nervous system, adrenaline. Overactivity of these components
of the stress response, and that’s really important. Because you look at someone
with a major depression who’s just mired in this
psychomotor retardation stuff, and there’s this
temptation to start thinking about them as
some sort of sea sponge, some invertebrate thing, where
you’re just so wiped out. You can’t even get out of bed. It is just debilitating
in that sense. That’s not what’s going
on during depression. What you have instead
is somebody whose body is blasting through there,
over-activated stress response, this enormous battle,
all of it going on internally. And the fact that you
see changes like these tell you this is not,
oh, just so wiped out you can’t even activate. This is someone whose body
is having a massive stress response 24/7. There’s a huge battle going on. And it’s all internally–
increased metabolic rate, increased muscle tone, all of
this again screaming biology. The final thing that
says tons of biology is lots of people
with major depression have rhythmic patterns
to the depression. You will get somebody where
they will fall into a depression where it will have two months
of extreme severe symptoms, debilitating, come
out the other end. And a year and a half later,
the exact same pattern, a year and a half later,
exact same thing. You have some people who
only get their depressions during the winter, something
known as seasonal affective disorders, SADs. And this is someone where
something horrible happens to them in June. And they feel sort of sad
for a couple of weeks. And they come out the other end. And nothing happens in January. And they fall into a depression. And they’re hospitalized
for a month and a half, just like every January
for the last 10 years. And you see that. And that is all about
biological clocks that are out of whack there. It’s biology. This is not, oh, come
on, pull it together. OK, so hopefully what
that begins to introduce is the notion amid all
these debilitating symptoms, these are ones that
are about biology. These are bodies
working differently. So starting to focus in
more on the biology of it– what’s going on in the
brain in major depression? What I’ll start off with
is the chemistry of it. OK, what we’ve got
here– do not panic if you are not
familiar with this and have not wanted to think
about science since high school sort of thing. You’ve got two brain cells. You’ve got two neurons. The way they talk to each
other, they don’t actually touch each other. In order for one neuron to
send a message to another one, it needs to release a chemical
messenger that goes floating over here and does something
or other to this neuron, chemical messenger called
a neurotransmitter. And here we have a case of this. And by law, all neurons
go from left to right. So this is a cell that
continues down this way. It’s all excited. It’s trying to pass on
some news to this neuron. There’s a space in
between called a synapse. And what this one is doing,
because it’s all excited, it has these little
water balloons filled with neurotransmitters. Excitation signal comes along,
dumps the neurotransmitters. They go floating across the
synapse, bind to a receptor there. And then, suddenly, something
changes in this neuron. That’s how neurons
talk to each other. How many different types of
neurotransmitters there are, probably hundreds. And what will be pertinent
here is in depression, there’s just a handful of them
that seem to be implicated. First neurotransmitter–
something called norepinephrine. Norepinephrine first got
implicated in depression in the early ’60s. What was the evidence? Around that time,
the first generation of antidepressant drugs
had been developed, something called MAO inhibitors. What do they do? OK, so you got your
neurotransmitters released. This neuron is excited. What do you have to do? It comes out. It does its thing
with the receptors. And then you have to
clean up after yourself. You’ve dumped all the
stuff in the synapse. What do you do then? You got two options. You can take the
neurotransmitter. And you can be green
in your orientation. You can recycle. You can take it back up
in here and stick it back into one of these. You can do this
recycling business. Or you could be terrible
and carbon footprint. You can throw out
your neurotransmitter. There’s enzymes
sitting around here that break it up and
flush it down the toilet. What’s the toilet? Out into your
cerebral spinal fluid, your bloodstream,
your urine, whatever. So either recycling
or degrade this stuff. So what do these
MAO inhibitors do? They inhibit the activity
of this enzyme that breaks down norepinephrine. OK, so what’s the logic there? So you inhibit the
activity of this enzyme. You don’t break
down norepinephrine. So it’s just floating
around there. And for lack of
anything else to do, it hits the receptor
a second time, and a third time, and
a gazillionth time. And, suddenly, somebody’s
depression goes away. What’s your theory have
to be at that point? Oh, I bet there wasn’t enough
norepinephrine coming out. You find a means to
increase the signaling. Somebody gets better. And you now hypothesize
there’s a problem with too little norepinephrine. By the late ’60s another
class of antidepressants came in called tricyclic
antidepressants. What do they do? Essentially the
same exact thing. What they do is they gum up this
pump that recycles the stuff. Norepinephrine doesn’t get
removed from the synapse, has nothing else to
do, hits the receptor a second, third, tenth time. Person feels better, oh, I
think the problem in my theory is too little norepinephrine
coming out– thus, the norepinephrine hypothesis. More evidence for
it– there are classes of drugs that will decrease
your norepinephrine release. Why would you want to do that? In some parts of the body,
an excess of norepinephrine has something to do with
high blood pressure. So you take a class of drugs,
something called reserpine. And what it does is it
disintegrates these things. And, thus, you don’t dump
as much norepinephrine. Major side effect in lowering
somebody’s blood pressure that way is they fall
into a depression. So you take a depressed person. You find a way of boosting up
there norepinephrine signaling. They feel better. You take a normal person. You drive down their
norepinephrine signaling. They get depressed. There’s gotta be a problem here
of too little norepinephrine. So that’s incredibly convincing. So at this point, what you’ve
got to say is, OK, great. That’s convincing. That’s irrefutable. What does norepinephrine do? And people figured
it out in the ’50s. And it’s got something
to do with this. Take a rat. And take a certain
part of the brain. You put an electrode
down in there where you can
stimulate the neurons. You can force them
to talk to each other when otherwise they
have nothing to say. Stimulate this pathway,
and what you do is you make a rat
unbelievably happy. So, of course, the
question is, how do you tell when a rat is
unbelievably happy? And what you do is you
make it work in order to get stimulated there. It presses a lever. And it presses a lever 25 times. And it gets a little buzz there. And it does another. And rats will work
themselves to death to get stimulated in this area. It is better than food. It is better than sex. If they’re addicted to a drug
and going through withdrawal, it is better than the drug. And what you see is these
mediates pure pleasure. And this was called the
pleasure pathway in the 1950s. So, of course, you look at it. And then what you have
to then say is, oh, do we have the same pathway? Can I get a new one? Can I get a second one? Shortly after that,
people went looking, and saw the exact
same thing in humans. And this would be during
neurosurgery– classical neurosurgical techniques. You don’t anesthetize
the person. The brain doesn’t feel pain. Once you’ve witnessed
the skin and the skull, you get through there. And you can actually keep
somebody awake during surgery. And they used to
need to need to do that, because you put
your little needle down in one part of the brain. d
the person flaps their arm. And another part and
they say the Pledge of Allegiance or whatever. And then you look at
your little roadmap. And it says, OK, go three
neurons and make a left. People had to do that. So it was around the
early ’60s that people started stimulating the same
area in the human brain. And it is unbelievable
what you got. There were transcripts
of some of these. And you read it. And the person is going on. And they’re saying stuff
like, oh that’s great. That’s great. That’s kind of like sex. But you know when
you have this itch and finally you
get to scratch it? And, oh, it’s like
getting back into bed. And remember how
in the fall you’d go out and play in the leaves,
and mom would call you in, and she made
cookies, and then you get into your jammies
with the feet on? They just go on like this. It’s like, where can you
sign up and have this happen? The same exact sort
of these as in a rat. And it was around
that time that people discovered that in this
pathway it uses norepinephrine. So if you’ve got a
shortage of norepinephrine in that part of the brain,
what have you just explained? That’s the loss of pleasure. Great, utterly
convincing– here’s all the reasons why you
shouldn’t be convinced. Problems began to emerge. First problem was
there’s something weird with the time course. You throw in any of the
drugs I just talked about and norepinephrine signaling is
changing within like an hour. You put a depressed
person on those drugs and they don’t get better
for a couple of weeks. Something isn’t working there. So that was mysterious. Next problem was it
turned out norepinephrine is useful in this pathway. Another neurotransmitter turned
out to be even more important, a neurotransmitter
called dopamine. Dopamine– cocaine works
on dopamine systems. So, suddenly, norepinephrine
is just a minor player in this pleasure pathway stuff. But the biggest problem
came in the late ’80s with the introduction of Prozac. Prozac, which is an SSRI, a
Selective Serotonin Re-uptake Inhibitor– what that does is
work on a completely different neurotransmitter system,
this neurotransmitter called serotonin. What that drug does is
it does the same deal. It stops the Re-uptake
Increased Serotonin Signaling. And then what’s your hypothesis? You give somebody a Prozac SSRI. They feel better. I bet you there was
too little serotonin. So it was during
this period where there was just endless
tragic drive-by shootings of norepinephrine people
by the serotonin crowd, or the other way around–
huge, huge controversy. And, of course, the middle
of the road liberals are like, why can’t
we all get along? Which starts suggesting that
maybe it’s got something to do with norepinephrine,
and serotonin, and dopamine, and everybody hold hands. And that’s absolutely
what’s going on. The best evidence at this point,
to be insanely simplistic, is that dopamine has something
to do with the anhedonia, an absence of dopamine. The absence of
norepinephrine has something to do with the
psychomotor retardation. The absence of serotonin is
this obsessive sense of grief. And, interestingly,
supporting that notion is you can have an obsessive
sense of something else. You could have an obsessive need
to keep your utensils perfectly symmetrical and obsessively wash
your hands eight hours a day. Obsessive compulsive
disorder, that’s helped by SSRIs
like Prozac as well. Whatever it is you are just
perseverating over like mad, increasing serotonin
signaling can help. So you’ve got at least three
different neurotransmitters relevant to the pleasure, the
psychomotor retardation, all of this, all sorts
of other leads floating around in the field. There’s a neurotransmitter
called substance P. And what substance
P is about is pain. Like, poke your finger
and your spinal cord, there’s neurons there
are releasing substance, talking to each other. It’s about pain. It’s about chronic
pain syndrome, which is about whole body burns. Everybody knew this. And then it was
discovered that if you get a drug that decreases
substance P signaling, sometimes depressives
get better. What does that suggest? It is not just a metaphor of
depression as psychic pain. Your body is using the
same brain chemistry to feel this psychic
pain of depression as just telling you,
oh, I just stubbed my toe– interesting
similarities there. OK, so we’ve got something
about the neurochemistry. How about the neuroanatomy,
the structure in the brain? And what you’ve got here
is this is the human brain. This is exactly
what it looks like. It comes in three colors. And this was this
formulation that came out during the ’40s called
the triune brain concept, which winds up being really,
really explanatory. Down here at the bottom, you’ve
got the really boring nuts and bolts part of the brain. And as it was termed,
this is the reptilian part of the brain. Take a lizard, and its’
basically the exact same stuff down there. What does this part
of the brain do, like regulatory boring things? It measures your
blood glucose levels. Or if your blood
pressure has dropped, it sends out a signal to
tighten up your blood vessels– just hope total boring
plumbing-type issues. Sitting on top of it is a much
more interesting brain region called the limbic system. Limbic system is about emotion. You don’t see a
big limbic system until you get to mammals. Lizards are not famous
for their emotional lives. Limbic system is much more about
emotive stuff– fear, and lust, and anger, and rage, and
poignance, and God knows what. What you’ve got
there are all sorts of ways where the
limbic system talks to this part of the brain. And what it does
is rather than you being hemmoraged–
oh, [INAUDIBLE], your body getting cold,
whatever, you’re some elk. And there’s some scary other elk
there that’s got you all upset. And you start secreting
stress hormones. That’s your limbic
system saying, oh, I don’t like the smell of
that guy talking down there– all sorts of means by which
your emotional part of the brain can talk to stuff down here. Then you’ve got the
really interesting area up on top– the cortex. Cortex, all sorts of creatures
out there have cortexes. We got more than anybody. It is this hugely
expanded area in primates. We proportionally have
the biggest one out there. What does cortex do? It makes you do your taxes. And it does processing
visual information, and tells you, that’s punk rock. And that’s not Beethoven, and
all sorts of sensory stuff, associative cortex things. But then there’s
an interesting part of the cortex that’s very
relevant to all of this. Suppose you finish the lecture. You go outside. Unexpectedly, you are
gored by an elephant. What are you going to do? You are going to activate
your stress response. You may feel a sense
of grief at that point. You may kind of hunker
down at that point, a little psychomotor
retardation. Appetite, there goes
the dinner arrangements. Sex may not be the
most appealing thing under that context. You are having a stress
response in response to the sort of insult that
this part of the brain is thinking about. So what’s a depression? You sit there. And you think about
kids in refugee camps. You think about the inevitable
mortality of your loved ones. You think about whatever. And, suddenly, your body
does the exact same thing as if you were gored
by an elephant. And what’s going on there
is you get the feelings, the abstract sort of
depressive stuff there. And this part of the
brain is able to make the rest of the brain
go along with it, as if this was an
elephant goring you. On a certain, totally
simplistic level what depression is about
is the cortex whispering in the ear of the rest
of the brain, saying, this is as real as you
were just physically assaulted by some sort
of predator, whatever. And you turn on the
exact same thing. On a very simplistic level,
what a depression is, is the cortex having
too many sad thoughts and getting the rest of the
brain to go along with it. OK, so if that’s how you
think about depression, which is insanely simplistic,
you could come up with an insanely simplistic
treatment for depression, which is get yourself a pair of
scissors and just kind of cut through there. And separate that part of the
brain from the rest of it. And you’re home free. Oh, yeah, right,
well, that’s certainly an advance in medicine. That is a medical procedure. It is called a cingulotomy,
the part of the cortex is called the
anterior cingulate. A cingulotomy, or a
cingulome bundle cut. And what you do is you
sever this pathway. And people get less
depressed at that point. OK, when does this happen? This is someone where
every type of medication, and every type of therapy, and
electroshock interventions, and all of that has been
tried in every combination. Are they’re still in the back
ward of the state hospital slashing their wrists
every three months. That’s when people try this. And the amazing thing with
this desperate measure is people get less
depressed at this point. OK, so at that point, you
may want to look at that and say, well, anything
else about these people when you’ve gone through
there and just snipped away? Mind you, this not
a frontal lobotomy. Frontal lobotomy is doing
something very undefined up there. But instead, you’re
disconnecting here. What else is up with
somebody when you’ve just disconnected part
of their cortex from the rest of the brain? Insofar as the cortex can come
up with abstractly sad thoughts and get the rest of the
brain to go along with it, maybe the cortex also comes
up with abstractly pleasurable thoughts and gets the
rest of the brain– have you just wiped
out somebody’s ability to have abstract pleasure? Absolutely. So, suddenly, you are off and
running with a great philosophy term paper. It’s important that we have
pain in order to have pleasure. This is nonsense. You get someone who is a
candidate for this procedure back in the state hospital there
with their wrists scarred over. And this is not somebody
feeling a whole lot of abstract pleasure anyway. So what does this tell us? You come up with some
ridiculously simplistic explanation, that you make it
impossible for this sad part of the brain to whisper
sad thoughts to the rest of the brain, the best people
in the field thinking about this can’t come up with
anything a lot more sophisticated than that. So that tells you something
about the brain structure with depression. Final bit of biology
here– hormones, what do hormones
have to do with it? One very important domain of
hormones– you take somebody. And they’re having
problems with a class of hormones, thyroid hormones. What thyroid hormones are about
is maintaining your metabolism, keeping your body warm enough,
all that sort of stuff. If you have a severe shortage of
thyroid hormone, lots of things happen, including you fall
into a major depression. Hypothyroidism is associated
with major depression. There’s an autoimmune disease
called Hashimoto’s Disease, which involves problems with
secreting thyroid hormone. And that’s a basic
feature of it. And somebody comes in. And you diagnose it. And you give them normal
levels of thyroid hormone. And away goes their depression. Lots of lessons with that. First one is best estimates are
about 20% of major depressions are undiagnosed hypothyroid
syndromes instead. The next one that
demonstrates is you better, when somebody is thinking
about your psychiatric state, you better have
somebody there who’s thinking about your nutrition,
your hormone levels, your– nothing about
what’s going on here is independent of
the rest of the body. So a big role for
thyroid hormones. Next domain of hormones being
relevant– you take women. And they have a higher
incidence of major depression than men do– approximately
twice the rate. In addition, women have
their highest vulnerability to depression at certain points
in their reproductive life histories. After you’ve given birth, a
post-parturition depression. Around the time of your
period, around the time of your menopause, all
of these scream biology. So you look at why women have
elevated rates of Depression. And there’s biology. There’s all sorts of
other schools of thought that have gone into it. There are ones having more
sociological framework. Lack of control can
cause depression. In society after society,
women traditionally have less control. No wonder they fall
into more depression. There’s another
school that focuses on a certain style of
emotional differences you see between the genders. On the average, women
tend to ruminate more on emotionally upsetting
things to focus in on more. And this sounds
totally stereotypical. And when you do the
studies, there’s overlaps between individuals. But nonetheless, on the
average, what you see is these sorts of studies
where you get someone after they’ve just had a
fight with a close friend. And what do women do
when they give a choice of a whole bunch of activities? They choose to fill
out questionnaires about how they met
their friend, and what the nature of the
relationship is, and does the friend
have a good marriage? And all of that. You do it to guys. And they fill out questionnaires
about trivia questions about the Civil War. Oh my God. They can’t express
their emotions. No wonder they’re impossible. And, of course, again,
individual variation, this is highly stereotyping. On the average, though,
women ruminate more on upsetting
emotions than men do. So that is solid science. What is completely
unsolid science is the speculation at
that point that if you ruminate on bad feelings, you’re
more prone to a depression. So that’s a whole emotional
regulation argument. But you come back
to that business of, women are most at risk for
a depression in the two weeks after giving birth, around
the period of their periods, menopause. And that’s all about hormones. And by now, there’s
a huge literature having to do with the effects
on all of that stuff over there of estrogen, and
progesterone, and probably most importantly the ratio
of estrogen progesterone. And what’s going on around
giving birth, period? Levels of this stuff is
just shooting around all over the place. And the sense is something goes
out of whack with the ratios there. And everything about estrogen,
progesterone, and the ratio can change the
number of receptors for these neurotransmitters,
the extent to which you do this re-uptake pump. Whatever depression
is going to turn out to be on this nuts
and bolts level, estrogen and progesterone
can do something to it. Final class of hormones that are
relevant– a class of hormones released during stress. OK, what’s the most famous
stress hormone on Earth? Adrenaline is this
vastly overrated hormone that I despise because there’s
a much more important stress hormone out there to which
I’ve devoted the last 30 years of my life, class
of stress hormones called glucocorticoids. They come out of your
adrenal gland during stress. The human version is
hydrocortisone, also known as cortisol. All sorts of other
species out there, you secrete these
glucocorticoids when you are stressed. You look at people
with major depression. And about half of them
have elevated levels of glucocorticoids
through the roof. There’s something out of
whack with the regulation of this stress hormone
during depression. What’s that about? That’s back to people
with depression are not invertebrates sitting
on their beds. These are bodies undergoing
massive stress responses. There’s a huge emotional
battle going on, all of it inside their heads. So elevated stress hormone
levels– what’s very clear is you get exposed to a
lot of glucocorticoids, and you’re more at risk
now for depression. You can see this
epidemiologically. You get people,
and statistically before their first major
depressive episode, something awful
stressful occurs. And that’s where this happens. And this is the subset of people
who stay down there far longer. Have one of those first
depressive episodes due to some stressful event,
you come out the other side eventually. You are no more at risk for
depression than anybody else. Along comes a second
major stressor. And you fall into a depression. Come out the other end, no
more at risk than anyone else for depression. Somewhere around
the fourth or fifth stress-induced depression,
something happens. And things start cycling
on their own there. And you no longer
need a major stressor to cause you to get
depressed like that. That’s when the clocks
are often running. That’s the transition. OK, so major stress
can predispose you towards depression. More evidence–
there’s a disease called Cushing’s disease,
where people secrete boatload of this glucocorticoid stuff. People with Cushing’s
fall into depressions. There’s a whole
bunch of diseases where people have to be treated
with lots of glucocorticoids. They fall into depression. What are glucocorticoids doing? A whole lot of
them, and your brain gets depleted of dopamine. And you’re right
back in this domain. That’s probably
the neurochemistry of how you get there. OK, so what do we
get at this point? We’ve got something about
brain chemistry and depression. We’ve got something about
the structure of the brain. We’ve got something
about hormones. You are a card-carrying
biological psychiatrist. And that’s all you need
to know about the subject. And if that’s all you
know about the subject, you are going to be pitifully
bad in making anybody get better, because all
of this knowledge winds up being effective for treating
maybe 30%, 40% of depressives. Vast majority of people,
the antidepressant drugs don’t do a whole lot there. All you’ve got there is modern,
cutting edge biology stuff. And that’s not enough. So what I’ll transition
to here is now talking about the
psychology of depression, because you better have
that piece in the story. Or else you’re
absolutely useless. Starting off with, I
make apologies here. But I actually have to say
the name of Sigmund Freud here, because he winds up being
very relevant to depression. Freud back when dealt with
this puzzle of the difference between we all get depressed
and come out the other end, and the subset of
people who crash. The turn of the
century Viennese term for people who come out
the other side, mourning. You mourn something
and you recover. Term of the century
Viennese term for major depression,
melancholia. And Freud and this
famous essay said, why is it that a subset
of us fall into it? What’s the difference between
mourning and melancholia? And he came up with a
really interesting model. OK, according to Freud,
you have mixed feelings, ambivalencies about
everybody you love out there. You love them. And you hate them. And you resent them. And you reject them, and
all that Freudian stuff. So in this Freudian view,
you have lost a loved one. That can also be a loved
concept, a loved goal. You have lost a loved one. What happens then
is, in most people, you are able to focus on the
love and the sense of loss. You mourn. And you come out the other end. In Freud’s view,
what melancholia is about is the
subset of people who can’t put the negative
feelings in the background. And instead, you are awash
in the love, and the hate, and the regret, and the
pain, and the delight, and all of that. And what a depression
is, is this wallowing, this melancholic loss,
and the ambivalencies you have about the
lost loved one. It explains tons. No wonder you have the grief. Lose somebody and go through
the mourning business. And only one thing is wrong. You’ve lost this loved one. Lose somebody with melancholia,
and two things have happened. You’ve lost the loved one. And you have now lost
the opportunity to ever make things better with them. No wonder you have the guilt.
You’re sitting there saying, thank God, I’m finally
done with this person. They are never
gonna control my– how can I think such
a thing like that? Sudden, crippling guilt,
all sorts of other symptoms. And out of this came this
wonderful soundbite– depression is aggression
turned inward, because you’ve got nobody else out there to
have these arguments with. This is the person who you have
most loved, but most hated. And you’ve never said the
things you needed to hear, and pounding at the door
to get them to finally to e able to tell them. And now you have lost
that opportunity forever. And all you can
do is internalize all of that– aggression
turned inward. No wonder you’re not feeling
a whole lot of pleasure. No wonder you’re
secreting stress hormones. No wonder you’re not
getting out of bed all that readily with the
psychomotor retardation stuff– this really powerful
soundbite of aggression turned inward. That’s great. What isn’t great
is how in the hell do you turn Freudian ambivalent
feelings into something about neurochemistry? Or what do estrogen
progesterone ratios have to do with love hate ratios? It’s great. It feels very intuitive. You can’t do modern
science on it, which is the problem with
the best parts of Freud. So instead, you
need to shift over to looking at experimental
psychology, and understanding what is the
psychology of stress? What is it that makes
psychological stressors stressful? And an enormous
literature now shows that for the same external
misery, you feel more stressed, you turn on a
stress response, you are more at risk for a
stress-related disease if you don’t have outlets
for the frustration caused by the stressor, if
you feel like you have no control over
what’s happening, you have no predictability
as to when it’s occurring, and you don’t have anybody’s
shoulder to cry on. This is what psychological
stress is about. And what a depression is, is
pathological extremes of this. You fall into the
cognitive psychology soundbite of what a depression
is, it’s learned helplessness. It is learning to be helpless. Something bad happens to you. You a rat, getting some
shocks now and then, you a human
experience some loss, and the logical thing you should
do is learn, this is awful. When I’m in this
situation, there’s not a damn thing I can do about it. It’s awful. I feel terrible. But this is not the whole world. And what a major depression
is about is you sit there. And you’re that rat. And in this setting, you
get uncontrollable shocks. But put you in another
setting and just by hitting the lever a couple
of times you avoid the shocks. You don’t bother doing
it because you’ve learned to be helpless, just
like a human depression. What depression, what
learned helplessness is, is taking a circumstance
where by any logic, again, you should be saying,
this is awful. But it is not the whole world. And do this
cognitive distortion. And decide, this is,
indeed, the entire world. And I have no control. I am always helpless. I am always hopeless. This is the psychology of
what a depression is about. At that point, you don’t
have a whole lot of trouble seeing how you wind up in here. Stress affects on some dopamine,
all that sort of stuff. So we’ve got two extremely
different viewpoints here as to what depression is about–
modern, biological stuff, and this totally different
world of psychology, loss, lack of control. One version of it, one of
the most reliable findings in the whole epidemiology
of depression is lose a parent to death when
you are under 10 years of age, and for the rest of you
life you are more at risk for a major depression. This makes perfect sense. What is a lot of what’s
going on during your first 10 years of life? You are learning about
cause and effect. You’re learning, is
this a world out there where I have any
sort of efficacy, where I have any
sort of control? And you have just learned in
the most big time, awful way, there are things
you can’t control. And sometimes they are awful. And what have you just learned? There’s all sorts of reasons
where one can be helpless. And you’re that much
closer to the edge of this learned
helplessness cliff for the rest of your life–
extremely powerful model here of that. So you got all
the biology stuff. You’ve got this weird Freudian
aggression turned inwards, which just feels right. But you can’t do
modern science on it. You’ve got this whole world. How do you begin to put this
world and that world together? And the critical link
turns out to be stress. Stress is the
intersection of the two in a very interesting domain. OK, depression is
a genetic disorder. What do I mean by that? Depression has some
degree of heritability. Depression tends
to run in families. Depression runs more
reliably as you look at closer and closer relatives. And you eventually look
at identical twins. And if one of them
has depression, the other has a 50% chance. Full siblings who
are not identical twins, 25% chance,
half sibling about 8%, person off the
street, about a 2%. 50% chance when they
share the identical genes. What does that do? That tells you this
is a disorder that has a genetic component. What does that also tell you? If you’ve got 50%
likelihood– if you’ve got all the genes in
common, and you’ve got a 50% chance of not getting
the depression– it tells you genes are important. But they’re not more important
than any other component. So genes and depression are
not about inevitability. They’re about vulnerabilities. So what is the
vulnerability about? A few years ago, people
discovered a particular gene that’s really relevant
to whether or not you get depression. What was exciting about that? It was a very clear finding. It has since been replicated. What else was exciting about it? It made sense. This was not some weirdo
gene having something to do with how your
big toe functions. This was a gene having
something to do with serotonin. And this was a gene relative
to this whole re-uptake pumping business, all of that. The main point of
it is this gene comes in two different flavors. Each one of us has one
of the two versions. And you immediately get
this prediction, one of the versions by
all logic should be predisposing to depression. One of them is the one that
should get you in more trouble here. So what does it look like
when you go and study it? First paper that reported
this a few years ago– and this, I suspect,
is going to wind up being viewed as the
most important paper in biological psychiatry
for a quarter century. This was this massive study
where a bunch of researchers looked at 17,000 kids
growing up in New Zealand, following them year
after year, and looking at the genetic makeup
of these individuals. And then asking in their
early ’20s, who’s got problems with major depression? And then asking this
critical question, what does it have to
do with this gene? Does the version of that gene
that gets you into trouble, by all logic, is that
going to set you up for more of a depression? Are you more at risk
for a depression if you’ve got the bad
version of the gene. And back comes the finding
which is no, no, it doesn’t increase your risk. You look here. And what’s your
likelihood of depression? And you’ve got the good version. And it’s this likely. And you’ve got the bad version. And it’s this likely. It doesn’t make a difference,
unless something else is going on, unless you have
a history of exposure to major stressors. And what you are able
to do is quantify how many major
stressors somebody has had during their
childhood, their development. And that involves parental
divorce, and physical abuse, and death of family member,
all that sort of thing. And what you see
is in the folks who have the good
version of the gene, as you have more and more of
a history of major stressors, our risk of depression
goes up, absolutely. Now you look at the people with
the bad version of the gene. And as you have more and
more of history of stress, your risk of
depression does this. And when you look at the
major history of stressors, a thirty fold difference
in the likelihood. This is not about genes
control our brains. And genes control our behavior. This is a gene that’s relevant
to how readily we pick ourselves up after life has
dumped us on our rear ends, how readily we recover
from stressors. What’s the final
piece of that story? Glucocorticoids regulate
the function of this gene. All the pieces fall into place
there– wonderfully logical. And, suddenly, you
have a way of taking this whole world of
psychological components of stress, and tying it into all
that biochemistry– wonderfully integrated model. OK, so in lots of
ways, this is where the field is at this point. And what should mostly
have come through here amid all this minutia, and
factoids, and all of that, is the role of stress, and the
intersection of the biology, and the psychological stuff, and
childhood as a very important time to imprint how vulnerable
you are to depression for the rest of your life. But, again, the
single thing I want to emphasize over and over
implicit on everything on that left side of the board
there, which is this is not, oh, pull yourself together. We all get depressed. This is as real of a biological
disorder as is diabetes. And that’s the thing I most want
you guys to take off from here. And in the context
of a university setting is rife with
major depression. A community of high
achieving, type A individuals is rife with major depression. It is all around us. And amid it being
all around us, there is this weird, corrosive
inhibition, embarrassment, discomfort we have with the
world of psychiatric diseases. One of the greatest
things– if you’re a researcher with a disease,
one of the things you pray for is to for some
powerful Senator have their loved one come
down with your disease because they’re going
to setup a foundation, and get special funding. And there’s advocacy
groups and all of that. Not for a psychiatric
disorder, that’s the one where people
don’t talk about it. And amid this screaming
biology, and this is a devastating disease, and
all of that, in any place, and especially in a
community like this where everyone is
supposed to be golden, and functioning, and flawless,
and just gliding through life, this is one of the
hardest diseases for people to admit to. So it is there. It’s all over the place. And it’s biology. And you should be no more
inhibited about admitting that you’ve got
something going on that’s funny with this type
of gene than you would be to admit that your
pancreas isn’t secreting insulin. So let me stop at this point. And, again, unfortunately, I
got to spring out the door. Otherwise, I would take
questions, but thanks. [APPLAUSE] For more, please visit
us at


  • Ronald E says:

    I've been on a journey trying to solve my own depression and put lots of time into research. Along the way, I discovered great men like Robert Sapolsky and needed to put together a useful depression site. Most of us with depression have entirely less energy than others, so we're left to trust the psychiatrists who, most of the time, fail us. I created a sub on Reddit for my depression and all the great information I've learned along the way. If you are also doing your own research feel free to check out my Reddit page at r/researchingdepression.

  • Michael T says:

    Robert looks like my old hiking partner without his walking stick.
    Whatever Stanford pays him is not enough. He can change people's lives.

  • Lis Skelsey says:

    Saposky is a master of delivery of concept packed full of content ….A post modern master…it would be a privilege to be at one of his lectures

  • Kirsten Hamilton says:

    Good lecture and Bad jokes: WIN! TY, Sir Sapolsky!

  • Harles Balanta says:

    Sound too low

  • Grace Buchhorn says:

    Anyone know the paper he was referring to in the last 5 mins about genes it's link with depression? Cannot seem to find it anywhere!

  • Some Entitlement issues says:

    I found an 8 week mindfulness course has prevented repeated bouts of depression from ruining my life. Along with finding meaning in my existence, and not expecting to be happy. Just being.

  • Some Entitlement issues says:

    Just because it can be argued that depression has biological eitiology , doesn't mean you can cure it with the medication of a patient. The over prescription of SSRI's is as big a problem as depression itself.

  • thePhuntastics says:

    would love to see a conversation between him and Stanislav Grof about depression, Schizophrenia and treatment via Neurotransmitter change aka LSD.

  • Bill Volpicelli says:

    Thank you Dr.

  • Douglas Jack says:

    This fella has such a relaxing and calming voice, I'm jealous

  • susannahXD says:

    I have all of the biological symptoms of this. I wake up super early. I am often totally wiped out. I am so reactive to tiny things that I can't bear ambient sounds. I feel like I'm having a high key adrenaline rush all the time. And I'm not hungry. Like, ever. And I have unusually high muscle tone. But I don't think I'm depressed. Am I? How do you know if you're depressed? I feel like I had a good day today…

  • Dan's Spot on the Tube says:

    An absolutely amazing presentation.

  • love cat says:

    Good info but delivered by a disheveled person. The laughter seems on cue. Oh well, that's SIRI for you

  • BoOniEDoTsShOw says:

    Theres always those couple people in the lecture who always forgets they're not at a comedy show. 😂😂

  • Paul Zheng says:

    The best thing that helped reduce my depression was ridding my body of as many parasites as possible. Used Pure gum spirits of turpentine. See Dr Jennifer Daniels. She was forced out of the US as her treatment regime deprives the medical industry of its patients.

  • tom hennessy says:

    "brain iron deposition may be associated with depression and may even be a biomarker for investigating the pathophysiological mechanism of depression" "Phlebotomy can result in dramatic improvement of neuropsychiatric
    symptoms" "the exact pathophysiology of this association between hemochromatosis and depression remains to be elucidated, physicians should be aware of this co-morbidity"

  • zhulia says:

    A lot of older people in the class.

  • royczak says:

    This guy is a rockstar.

  • Mateo says:

    I can no longer believe that depression is mostly biological. It clearly has an enormous cultural component, and can be overcome by changing behavior and thoughts. Most people can control their depression with the right information and habits. I have, after struggling with it for 20 years and trying various medications.

  • One Love says:

    Nobody ever says it, but I will. Depression is a PC term for having "SUICIDE CANCER".

  • Grasshoppa065 says:

    Great lecture, very informative, depression screams biology. What isn't obvious is how to cure it. None of what was stated in this lecture is conflicting with the fact that a bad diet and sedentary lifestyle can knock your nervous system out of wack, causing a depressive episode. It's ironic that the learned helplessness trait of depression is only exacerbated by the suggestion that a pill is the only solution, which cripples any motivation depressed individuals may have to take more functional, and frankly healthier, approaches to treat it, such as eating healthy and exercising every day. I would love to see a lecture that discusses the treatment options for this disease beyond taking a pill with huge side effects.

  • Vernalist says:

    Thank you so much for this ❤️

  • Karol Birmingham says:

    buy a PlayStation and a couple games. IT WORKS

  • Scott Reynolds says:

    This guy is pretty sharp!

  • Dan Jones says:

    I wish I could just go to sleep and never wake up. It would be like I never happened.

  • M R says:

    37:30 has been the way I have felt for years. My description is that you have a trigger that has less and less resistance after being pulled. Very interesting.

  • MaTeOWaNnA ReMaStErZeR of LoLs says:

    Is this a homeless jobs program? You put a shirt on him, he still looks like a street rat.

  • The legend of Saint Charles says:

    Incredibly interesting stuff.

  • Daniel Zawawi says:

    6:04 homo radio side-kick say what?

  • The legend of Saint Charles says:

    I was hoping he would dove into and unpack the statement he Made about muscle tone increasing from depression..

  • Noah Bartlett says:

    interesting lecture, would love to talk to him

  • Beastmode Jake says:

    What’s up with the laughter?

  • David Wilkie says:

    Without an intensive education about all the possible alternatives to facing your holographic reflection, ie by displacement of probable cause to a theoretical big bang explosion or some such irrelevance to the actual, observable situation here-now, we couldn't live with ourselves. But since the Actuality of the sum-of-all-histories Calculus of collective health and behavior is easily understood by watching the destruction of human society and environment by a precious few, we have every right to be depressed.

    Discover the internal origin of actual intelligence of existence and, in your own mind, act constructively and inclusively.
    The Ten Commandments are denials from a denialist concept that it is absolutely impossible to get help from other than in the line of reasoning that is characteristic of mathematical disproof.., of the theory of everything god-like.

  • Bruce Wayne says:

    I can't even keep watching

  • anastrophe says:

    Ten years on, and I wish we could find out Mr. Sapolsky's thoughts on the study that quashed the genetic-component theory –

  • Mark Lampo says:

    Depression is normal and drugging normal inconvenient states of mind is BIG MONEY!

  • TrinkBruder says:

    I am 19 minutes in and much more comfortable with Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs, and the absence of meeting those needs, as an explanation for depression. I don't see this as developing into a sociological context for it.

  • Marc Padilla says:

    Great Biological explanation. Why is it so prevalent now and why are we heavily medicated overall. Causation ?

  • Jarod RR says:

    This lecture is a milestone in the education of depression, delivered by a supreme intellect of the subject. Thank you, Dr. Sapolsky.

  • Naveen J says:

    Psychiatry is nonsense.

  • Nox.INk# Records ❶ says:

    Hagrid makes a lot of sense. Thank you Professor.
    This is far better than TedX presentations.

  • shawn burnham says:


  • Ron Garrett Bergeron says:

    Best argument against allowing the most sad people to fix the world. Thank you.

  • J F says:

    Food tastes like ash.

  • TheNoodlyAppendage says:

    It's also exacerbated by continuous exposure to high stress/low empowerment situations. It is shown in rats that are not genetically predisposed to depression that putting the rat in a stressful situation on a regular basis but not giving the rat the ability to effect a change in its environment to escape that situation many rats will develop environmentally trigger depression.

  • shawn burnham says:


  • Vaibhav says:

    This video is 10yrs old. Situation is worse now. 😑

  • Karin Turkington says:

    Spectacular explanation.

  • Amanpreet Singh says:

    Why is the audience laughing or giggling at pretty serious things?It's very insensitive

  • Ward Lake says:

    all of his pockets are full …LOL

  • theartthatran says:

    I got curious about the serotonin gene variant predisposing someone to depression so decided to read up on it. This lecture was recorded in 2009 so more studies have been conducted since, and the evidence seems to point towards the serotonin gene not playing a major role in depression.

  • Janete win says:

    I had major depression that was related with stressful situation, never was cyclic but definitely needed medication. One thing that I felt in all episodes was extreme fear, total lack of confidence, lost my ground, and a weird smell, all the time! When I was younger I was able to get out, after a while, no medication needed. But as I got older I was put on medication, bc I couldn’t eat. Then, after one year I winning myself off. I realized that I have to develop inner strength, so my search for meaning of life started. The existence of God, faith in something larger than myself, helped me see beyond myself and and gain emotional strength. Now I am more confident and my negativity is subsiding, I am more mature and wiser. Getting better in dealing with the stressors of life. Medication can be great in a acute situation, but it can also hold you back on your developmental process. So, if you can, just use to get out of that chemical imbalance, bc all the descriptions they give you about depression is not nearly close to what we really fell, depression was just the worse feelings I ever experienced…but once you start to take meds and fell improvements, it may take one year, but work on yourself (we are not just a physical being, we are emotional and spiritual). Strength yourself and GRADUALLY get out OUT of psych meds! Life is good, you are good you just have to see it!🙏

  • Newell Daugherty says:

    People Don’t Want to
    Kill Themselves They Just Don’t Know How to Kill the Pain!!!!!!!!!

    Every Thunderstorm
    Runs Out of Rain!!!!!!

  • heathenwizard says:

    This is a great talk. Kinda taken by surprise when people clapped at the end though – I mean it was a fantastic lecture but I’ve never seen that before!

  • Venom Q says:

    I have watched this many times. I have tried to look at the bright side of life. It's not there. Dr. Sapolsky is right. Mental illness is the most misunderstood and misdiagnosed condition that plagues humanity. It manifests itself in many ways. Unfortunately we don't and cannot understand what it means. It is often a diagnosis of exclusion that leaves the most vulnerable of society at risk of being subjugated and forgotten. I was wrong to believe that this was not the case. There is a lesson to be learned here. I fear that for some we are too late.

  • Spicy Artisan Hipster Salami says:

    I went through a “down” period for about a month. Not depressed, just high anxiety/fear from circumstances and I stopped eating. 30 pounds lost in one month… I was scary skinny and didn’t even care, wasn’t hungry, nada. I can’t imagine being verifiably depressed

  • MaxBrix says:

    I can't handle this right now.

  • shawn burnham says:

    this is depressing

  • Newell Daugherty says:

    I call it the Golden Curse!!!!

    The Voyage of Return

    I set sail across the desert to leave the pain of misery.

    Searching for the ocean, I have heard so much of its splendid beauty

    and tranquility.

    My sails were full of the hot desert air as I passed motionless dunes.

    I remember what was said to me when searching for content afar.

    “For man is never content as he seeks contentment when he cannot seem to find it.”

    I looked out across my bow and noticed an oasis drawing near. I saw

    a weary traveler with camel at hand, getting drink from the cool.

    Our I eyes had met and I let down my and it mysteriously drew me there

    and coasted to his near.

    He asked me, "Son, where does your journey take thee?"

    I replied, "Far away from the pain and misery and to the great ocean of

    splendid beauty and tranquility:”

    He turned and drank another drink from the cool, looked back at me

    and asked, "My Son, what is the heaviest load a man can carry?"

    I pondered, what an odd question he was placing upon me, and could

    not think of a satisfying answer.

    He knew I was alone and puzzled. He spoke, "A grudge, my Son -for he cannot see clearly ahead because of his pains and becomes an inmate of the past."


    Convictions of Valor

    Courage gives one might and fortitude to

    push on in the midst of uncertainty and fear.

    It is here where spirits are summoned as faith is extracted from deep within.

    There's nothing in life of renowned magnitude that’s accomplished

    without sincere determination.

    There is no one that can provide it to you, not I or them.

    It is not something anyone can buy or take a pill for.

    It's a resource that is within us all; it renews self-worth.

    It is the drive that spurs us on.

    From the courage within, it is here that we encounter our balance.

    And from this day forward the expedition our life's voyage,

    All starts with our first foot forward.


  • pappanalab says:

    is it worrying that a good chunk of this stuff applies to me?

  • Ryan Estrella says:


  • vaishali sheth says:

    "Agression turned inwards!!!" So beautifully explained! Best lecture on depression…presented in such compassionate manner!

  • vaishali sheth says:

    And a very soothing voice! 🙂

  • Cave Squirrel says:

    I’d love to hear this without the crowd noise

  • Jessie says:

    This is amazing

  • Different World says:

    I'm watching and thinking what's so funny that people laugh….its strange watching while they laugh..

  • diana salles says:

    Why did the professor not mention the social consequences and material stressors of childbearing on women but rather only focus on the endocrinology as a cause of depression? I have my theories and they are that the professor needs to brush up on feminism.

  • diana salles says:

    Why did the professor not mention the social consequences and material stressors of childbearing on women but rather only focus on the endocrinology as a cause of depression? I have my theories and they are that the professor needs to brush up on feminism.

  • Massimiliano Verzasconi says:

    Crowd laughing each time he says something in such a precise way not even depressed people could describe. It is not a joke what he says. So irritating

  • Cj USA says:

    EVERYTHING hit hard LITERALLY..MDD is HELL..then about family & friends..quit 23 yrs of Prozac it was 80% flouride i researched & many others. SSD/SSI permanent 11 yrs now yet by then it was too late.Its cold cruel world for some while others try to sleep or sleep too much for years.Depression is definitely the worst and then add Complex. Lifelong PTSD BPD OCD ADHD Severe anxiety chronic pain abandoned isolated assulted many many times homelseeness single away from in a foreign place away from ypur children and grandchild and thank God for your seizure dog Angel..for me to live with fibro.. help detect and alert to them bit no one is around to hear her or cares. As u question God over and over for one last miracle of an entire lifetime of pain living like a soldier battlong nonstop bombing and gunfire of pain after trying to escape yet failing every time u have one last reason to look at no one in the eyes or trust or love.I can finally rest but my last hope and unconditionall reality only comes with the companionship of an animal
    But an Angel is here with me which I believe sets me free from the grief of humanity

  • Chris Namaste says:

    There is a dog shaking at 17:10…listen….

  • Desislava Pashova-Diamant says:

    Brilliant! Thank you.

  • gnazlis says:

    @ 2:00 both of these diseases are caused by over-consumption of simple carbohydrates…

  • Chris Rees says:

    Depression feels like someone turned out the lights. Sometimes it feels like your mind is play tricks on you, like you are in a fog or something. It's anguish. dread, fear all wrapped up into one, like something awful is going to happen.

  • kaos moto says:

    This is by far the best lecture I've ever seen on depression and the complexity of the disease… From anedonia to major depressive disorder and TRD. From the chemistry to pharma.. He is an abs amazing professor and knows what I'm thinking to ask next without me needing to ask.

  • no name says:

    and the reason Standford isn't creating graduates who can quilty cure depression- THEY HAVE NO IDEA WHAT DEPRESSION IS YET. This is an education system that can only profit off causing problems, they are not in the business of solving problems, no profits in solutions, only profits are found in causing problems people react to so you can sell them drugs for a lifetime.

  • akwatic says:

    This is excellent, compassionate, informative lecture. Thank you for posting this! I have heard Dr. Sapolsky refer to people suffering from this diagnosis as both "depressives" and "people who have depression". In the larger context of Mental Health, and stigma and misinformation regarding mental health diagnoses (which this lecture is actively working to remedy in my opinion), terms like depressives, or saying someone IS a bi-polar (for example), is incorrect and does not recognize the personhood of the individual as paramount to the diagnosis. I challenge myself everyday, and now all who read this comment, to consciously use language that respects and recognizes the personhood in every individual (regardless of a mental health diagnosis or not), but in particular when speaking about, and too individuals with these diagnoses. We are not depressives, or bi-polars, or schizophrenics, or psychos, we are PEOPLE who have depression, PEOPLE who have bi-polar, PEOPLE who have schizoaffective disorder. You may not know the profound influence you have on someone when you address them as an individual, and NOT their diagnosis (or disability) but it is tangible, and sometimes life saving.

  • DJ3Cubed says:

    I have had an Rx and forced myself to watch SAD content visually, sad movies, as stimulus and can confirm it made no effect on making me physically sad. The realization of its effect of shuting down the emotion, and forcing stimulus to not get an expected result of sad. I felt to be abnormal, incomplete. I discontinued use because of that reason. I want to know more, do you ship the required books in the sylabus to Canada?

  • Jeff Hill says:

    Standard American Diet > inflammation > depression. Simple.

  • SiegXels says:

    8:48 I've been fighting the psychomotor retardation for 2 years now, I can't get myself to eat, I can't get myself to leave the bed, I can't even brush my teeth or shower. I been stuck in this loop trying to get routines working but they never stick, It might work for a few days a week at max, then all of the sudden the depression just pulls me straight back down and I go into this "psychosis" again. I was on SSRI for 4 years but quit them cold turkey about 1.5 years ago. I feel like I know myself better by staying of the meds but I also feel like this psychomotor retardation has crippled me way harder off the meds. This constant loop of psychomotor retardation > good week trying to get routines > fall back into depression has gotten me feeling exhausted after 2 years. I don't feel sadness or pain anymore, I just want this to stop.

  • vakarimasen says:

    Thank you, Mr Sapolsky. I suffer from depression for about 15 years. This video helped my friends begin to understand why I'm often such an indecisive whiny bitch.

  • lumburgapalooza says:

    Every day is a mammoth struggle and is made infinitely worse by the fact that the people I love can not see it. Thank you for this video. I don't feel crazy anymore.

  • Meh. says:

    I really love this lecture it's simplified and humorous just really great.

  • shawn burnham says:

    36 on this and ^

  • Sandor Jerabek says:

    Fuck this ex wild child turned professor .. His brains are fried due to lsd use..

  • brooke says:

    "Depression is aggression turned inward."

    Wow. That got me.

  • W Serba says:

    This condition is debilitating, so how do these genes still exist? Why does no one ever talk about irritability as a symptom?

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