Cayce Health Database
OVERVIEW OF DEPRESSION
WHAT IS DEPRESSION?
Depression can be thought of as a morbid sadness.
Depression is characterized by dejection, lack of hope, feelings of worthlessness
or inappropriate guilt, and diminished ability to think or concentrate.
When severely depressed, individuals may also have recurrent thoughts
of death (especially suicide).
Depression is very common. In fact,
it has been referred to as the "common cold of mental illness."
Yet, depression is not a new illness. It has long been recognized
as a common emotional disorder.
For many centuries depression was referred to
as "melancholia." The term melancholia is derived from the Greeks
who believed that depression resulted from an imbalance in the body's
chemistry. Melancholia was thought to be caused by an excess of black
bile. Bile is a chemical secreted by the liver and gall duct.
Just as in Edgar Cayce's era, the term
melancholia is still used to designate depression. Not surprisingly,
many of Cayce's readings use the two terms interchangeably. As a
medical term, melancholia is still used in modern psychiatric diagnosis.
However, it now refers to a subtype of depression. In recognition
of its Greek origins, melancholia now refers to depression with strong
biological features, such as disturbed sleep and appetite, decreased interest
or pleasure in all or almost all daily activities, and psychomotor disturbances
(such as too much or too little bodily movement or activity). Melancholic
depression is thought to respond better to biological treatments (such
as drug therapy). Interestingly, Edgar Cayce spoke at length about
the physical aspects of depression when he used the term melancholia.
CAUSES OF DEPRESSION
Research suggests that there are probably many
causes of depression. However, in recent years, great emphasis has
been placed on the biology of depression. Scientists have explored
the relationship between faulty chemistry in the nervous system and depressive
symptoms. Specifically, research has focused on the chemical messengers
(called neurotransmitters) which nerve cells use to communicate with each
If there is a problem with certain neurotransmitters
in the brain, communication between nerve cells may be inhibited.
When this chemical dysfunction occurs in the areas of the brain associated
with emotion and cognition, depression may result. In simple terms,
when nerve cell communication is inhibited, the nervous system itself
may be said to be depressed in its activity. This inhibition my
lead to a general depression of mind and body. Presumably, the antidepressant
drugs prescribed by medical doctors can therapeutically alter the chemical
messengers used by nerve cells, resulting in better communication within
the brain. This biochemical explanation of the cause and treatment
of depression is sometimes referred to as the "medical model of depression."
EDGAR CAYCE'S PERSPECTIVE ON DEPRESSION
Edgar Cayce was decades ahead of modern medical
research when he gave graphic descriptions of nervous system pathology
in cases of depression. When he spoke of such nervous system
pathology in cases of depression, he would sometimes use the expression
"lapse of nerve impulse" to portray the breakdown in nerve cell communication.
The readings give many reasons for this
characteristic "lapse in nerve impulse." In numerous cases, glandular
dysfunction was cited as the source of the problem. Edgar Cayce's
explanation was that the nervous system is dependent upon the glands of
the body to provide the chemicals essential for normal nerve cell functioning.
When the glands fail to provide these essential chemicals, various physical,
mental and emotional symptoms (including depression) can result.
Endocrine gland pathology (most often the adrenal, thyroid and pineal
glands) was noted in several cases of depression. Significantly,
modern medical research has also acknowledged the involvement of these
important endocrine glands in depression.
Toxicity is another common biological
cause of depression cited by Edgar Cayce. In some readings, he spoke
of a "deadening" effect to the nervous system produced by the absorption
of toxins into the nerve fiber. Apparently, this deadening effect
could have a depressive effect upon the nervous system leading to the
characteristic "lapse in nerve impulse."
Naturally, treatment recommendations in such
cases focused heavily on therapies intended to cleanse the body.
Improved diet, with regular massage and hydrotherapy, were common prescriptions
in such cases.
While Edgar Cayce's perspective has many
similarities to the modern medical (biochemical) model of depression,
there are important differences. Instead of relying heavily on medication
to alter the chemical balance in the nervous system, he would usually
recommend more natural methods. These "holistic" therapies would help
the body to be its own "medicine chest" and thus bring its faulty biochemistry
back into a healthy state. "Holistic" refers to Cayce's tendency
to consider the whole person (body, mind and spirit) when diagnosing illness
and making treatment recommendations. Hence, Edgar Cayce is widely regarded
as the "father of modern holistic medicine."
Another difference between Cayce's perspective
and the medical model is the role of mental and spiritual factors which
may lead to depression of the nervous system. For example, he would
often note psychospiritual causes, such as unhealthy attitudes, or a lack
of spiritual direction in a person's life, as a precedent of nervous system
The readings contain many examples of
mentally (i.e., psychosomatically) induced depression. "Mind is
the builder" is a prominent theme in the readings and is based upon
the inherent association of mental processes with the nervous system.
Self-condemnation was a particularly destructive mental pattern frequently
noted in cases of depression. Failure to live up to an ideal (or
even have an ideal) was sometimes cited as a primary source of mental
TREATMENT RECOMMENDATIONS FOR DEPRESSION
Although Edgar Cayce's treatment recommendations
varied from person to person based on the unique
needs of each individual, the therapies which follow represent some of
the common suggestions for treating and preventing depression.
- INTERNAL CLEANSING: Improving eliminations is a high priority because
the readings cite toxemia as a common causal factor associated with
depression. Hydrotherapy (fume baths and colonic irrigation),
manual therapy (osteopathy and chiropractic), massage, and diet are
the main therapies for improving eliminations.
- MANUAL THERAPY: Manual therapy (spinal manipulation and massage)
assist in establishing better coordination between the central and
peripheral nervous systems. This is important because the readings
consistently portray the pathophysiology of depression as a "lapse
in nerve impulse."
- RADIAL APPLIANCE: The Radial Appliance may prove helpful in cases
where restlessness, fatigue or insomnia are significant symptoms.
This simple device resembles an electrical battery. However,
it does not produce any measurable electrical energy. The readings
insist that it utilizes the body's own vibratory energies to help
equalize the circulatory and nerve systems.
- OUTDOOR EXERCISE: The readings also consistently stress the importance
of moderate outdoor exercise in the open (i.e., sunlight) for relaxation,
improving eliminations, and in certain cases, as a form of phototherapy.
Phototherapy is the use of light to treat illness. Phototherapy
has been used for centuries as a natural means of treating depression.
- IDEALS EXERCISE: The ideals exercise is an important intervention
for establishing priorities, not only within the therapeutic regimen,
but also for long-term health maintenance. This intervention
is also an excellent means of recognizing and correcting dysfunctional
attitudes and beliefs.
- SERVICE TO OTHERS: The spiritual phase of the basic model encourages
persons to take a broader perspective on their immediate situation.
Altruistic service provides a sense of interpersonal connectedness
which can be extremely therapeutic in the treatment of depression.
Cayce often recommended that depressed persons find someone who is
in a worse condition and help them. He emphasized that the best
way of helping self is to help others.
- BIBLIOTHERAPY: The readings also consistently recommend that persons
suffering from depression read and study inspirational material.
Clinically known as bibliotherapy, this therapeutic technique is now
used by many psychotherapists for the treatment of many forms of mental
illness, including depression. Consistent with his Christian
religious orientation, Edgar Cayce showed a preference for the Bible
as a source of inspiration. Certain passages were repeatedly
recommended for persons suffering from depression (most often the
30th chapter of Deuteronomy and the 14th, 15th, 16th and 17th chapters
Note: The above information is not intended for self-diagnosis
or self-treatment. Please consult a qualified health care professional
for assistance in applying the information contained in the Cayce Health