I think it was Paul Harvey who shared a study the Russians did on depression. In this study, they swatted participants with a paddle in one group, and did nothing to the other group. In the paddled group, there was significantly less instances of depression. Their theory was that the paddling released a chemical in the brain that prevented depression.
More recently, a clinic in Russian is using paddling to treat depression and addiction (Read Here). The practitioners cite that it is the endorphins released into the brain that help the patients recover.
My theory is that much of our societies depression comes about because life is too easy and we are not properly stimulated. Whomever created this existence of ours (we can debate creation v. evolution another time) may not have foreseen a human existence that was not based on the constant struggle for survival.
My thinking is, that in order to psychologically function in the endless stress of the hunter-gather world of our ancestors, a physiological mechanism was put in place to handle the regular doses of fight or flight. Something that prevented us from going nuts under the constant stress of attaining food while at the same time trying not to become the same. Now with our relatively comfortable lives, that same mechanism is the trigger for depression. No longer is there the regular stimulus of our ancient relatives.
Health professionals are constantly telling us to be more physically active. It is obvious from what is happening to our bodies and the increasing number of X’s found in our clothing tags, that we are not engineered for sedentary lifestyles.
I believe our brains need regular stimulation as well. I am not talking about playing Sudoku in an effort to avoid Alzheimer’s. I am talking real stimulation. The type that is equivalent to fearing for our survival. There needs to be the near death experience that sparks a true fight or flight response on the psychological as well as the physical level.
Something that really gets the blood pumping.
That leads me to another theory based on the same principle. Maybe post-traumatic stress disorder is a form of withdrawal. A response to readjusting to life without the constant fight or flight stimulation of combat.
Just a thought.