The Biology of Good Mental Health
This past Sunday was World Mental Health Day. In this issue, we leave marketing on the sidelines and talk about some of the applications of evolutionary theory in health and medicine.
(Originally published in January 2020.)
Healthy individuals make for healthy organizations.
In my Master's studies, I majored in marketing, but I also completed quite a few courses on human resources and organizational theory. In this period, I developed an interest in the question of what constitutes a healthy individual. Today, this question has never been more pertinent. For the first time in recent years, we have witnessed a decline in life expectancy. Depression levels are going through the roof. The younger generation seems to be most affected, particularly young girls. Depression among academics is high too. So, is there a cure for depression and unhealthy lifestyles?
In his book, The Depression Cure: The 6-Step Program to Beat Depression without Drugs, Dr. Stephen S. Ilardi uses evolutionary theory to suggest that depression represents a disease of civilization. He applies evolutionary mismatch theory to propose that some of our behaviors can be maladaptive in our current environment. In his own words:
“We were never designed for the sedentary, indoor, sleep-deprived, socially-isolated, fast-food-laden, frenetic pace of modern life.”
Dr. Stephen Ilardi
These unhealthy behaviors can cause inflammation in our bodies and brains, the result of which are diseases such as diabetes, atherosclerosis, asthma, allergies, obesity, many forms of cancer, and Alzheimer’s disease, as well as depression. All of these diseases were almost absent in humans while we were living in hunter-gatherer societies. They are also not common in indigenous people.
Based on extensive research, Dr. Stephen S. Ilardi has devised and tested a 6- step lifestyle program that can reduce the levels of depression. The road back to lasting health can be achieved by integrating the following elements into your life:
- an omega-3 rich diet
- plenty of natural sunlight
- ample sleep
- social connections
- participation in meaningful tasks that leave little time for negative thoughts
Takeaway: Stay healthy!