Did our ancestors have a better solution to treating depression than modern times? Yes... the entire culture understood that people have melancholy. (Their word for emotional depression.) They also understood that rest was critical for recovery.
But also no. They didn't have understanding for head injuries, no psychotropic drugs, and no safety net to help people navigate mental issues resulting from abuse and injuries.
However, not much has changed in popular definition of depression as a medical condition of sadness in the last two hundred years. It has a bit more medical jargon attached to it, and it's moved up a bit in Mr. Webster's dictionary, but we are just as far from finding a "cure" as our ancestors.
Perhaps we are even farther from healing depression than our ancestors. Our modern social interactions are too friable and too callously brief. Information flows as a crushing tumult with ceaseless and suffocating pressure. The simple harmonies of nature are far removed by the clattering noise of our technology.
In the end, we are pushed far adrift from the shores of happiness. Modern life is a rip-tide of denial pushing us ever away from the healing shores of empathy, compassion and solace.
Our ancestors seemed to have more patience with each other in this matter of profound sadness. They seemed more willing to listen, help and comfort. The Internet might be great for information, but it is a heartless beast for compassion.
Take, for example, that Abraham Lincoln suffered his entire life with crushing depression and yet was elected President (and it was widely know he was melancholy and he still won election).
In fact, Lincoln was often so despairing that friends would remove all guns and knives from him during his dark periods for fear he might harm himself.
"Hypo" or "Melancholy", he called it. His gift for words painted a sad canvas that we easily relate to, as I quoted in the opening to John T. Stuart:
"I am now the most miserable man living. I must die or be better."
Abraham Lincoln was not alone in depression.
You are not alone in depression. Here is a wonderful video series that will further explore an new and wonderful way of curing depression. Tune in every Tuesday and Thursday for new episodes.