Stanford’s Robert Sapolsky Demystifies Depression, Which, Like Diabetes, Is Rooted in Biology

We know that depres­sion affects peo­ple from all walks of life. Rich. Poor. Celebs. Ordi­nary Joes. Young. Old. But, some­how after the death of Robin Williams, there’s a renewed focus on depres­sion, and my mind turned imme­di­ate­ly to a lec­ture we fea­tured on the site way back in 2009. The lec­ture is by Robert Sapol­sky, a Stan­ford biol­o­gist, who has a tal­ent for mak­ing sci­en­tif­ic sub­jects pub­licly acces­si­ble. A recip­i­ent of the MacArthur genius grant, Sapol­sky notes that depres­sion — cur­rent­ly the 4th great­est cause of dis­abil­i­ty world­wide, and soon the 2nd — is deeply bio­log­i­cal. Depres­sion is root­ed in biol­o­gy, much as is, say, dia­betes. As the lec­ture unfolds, you will see how depres­sion changes the body. When depressed, our brains func­tion dif­fer­ent­ly while sleep­ing, our stress response goes way up 24/7, our bio­chem­istry lev­els change, etc. You will see that biol­o­gy is at work.

Sapol­sky is one com­pelling teacher. So you might not want to miss his Stan­ford course, Intro­duc­tion to Human Biol­o­gy. It’s equal­ly worth your time. You can always find it housed in our col­lec­tion Stan­ford’s Robert Sapol­sky Demys­ti­fies Depres­sion, Which, Like Dia­betes, Is Root­ed in Biol­o­gy.

Note: An ear­li­er ver­sion of this post appeared on the site in August, 2014.

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Relat­ed Con­tent:

Exer­cise May Prove an Effec­tive Nat­ur­al Treat­ment for Depres­sion & Anx­i­ety, New Study Shows

Stephen Fry on Cop­ing with Depres­sion: It’s Rain­ing, But the Sun Will Come Out Again

Nutri­tion­al Psy­chi­a­try: Why Diet May Play an Essen­tial Role in Treat­ing Men­tal Health Con­di­tions, Includ­ing Depres­sion, Anx­i­ety & Beyond

Psilo­cy­bin Could Soon Be a Legal Treat­ment for Depres­sion: Johns Hop­kins Pro­fes­sor, Roland Grif­fiths, Explains How Psilo­cy­bin Can Relieve Suf­fer­ing

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Open Culture was founded by Dan Colman.