The Buddha’s teachings are based on compassion, or the desire for all creatures to be free of suffering and from the causes of suffering. Depression is among the most terrible and devastating forms of suffering in today’s world. The majority of depression is a clinically diagnosed mental condition that compromises our ability to work, sleep, study, eat, and enjoy previously pleasurable activities. The World Health Organization observes that mental illness is on the rise and forecasts that one in every four people may have one or more mental diseases during their lifetime.
Buddhism’s five commandments instruct believers not to kill, steal, participate in sexual misconduct, speak deceptive lies, or use psychoactive substances. A previous study demonstrates that adhering to the five precepts can improve general well-being and lifestyle quality for the public at large, including non-serious adherents. Furthermore, it has been less obvious whether these five principles could help people who are at a higher risk of depression.
Wongpakaran and colleagues focused on the known links to answer this question. Wongpakaran and colleagues focused on recognized relationships involving neuroticism, stress, and depression to answer this question. Previous research has found that higher levels of neuroticism are associated with a higher risk of depression, both directly and indirectly through the psychological stress people feel and think about after stressful life events.
From late 2019 to September 2022, the researchers administered an online questionnaire to 644 Thai people. The survey comprised typical questionnaires to assess each participant’s perceived stress, neuroticism, and depressive symptoms, in addition to their adherence to the five Buddhist precepts.
Statistical examination of the survey findings revealed that adhering to the five precepts to a significant level appears to mitigate the impact of perceived stress on depression. These findings imply that individuals with a high level of neuroticism and anxiety may be less likely to experience symptoms of depression if they strictly adhere to the five precepts.
The researchers point out that, while their study implies that the five precepts may be beneficial in the setting of depression, it does not prove a cause-and-effect relationship. A substantial number of participants were females and individuals who lived alone, and religious affiliation was unknown; however, 93.3% claimed to be Buddhist. More research is needed to understand whether these findings apply to the general Thai population and beyond, as well as non-Buddhists.
“The five precepts practiced help other people feel comfortable, because all of these acts are harmless,” the authors continue, “and it potentially offers the stressed practitioner a barrier against depression.”
A growing body of research has discovered beneficial links between religious participation and negative mental health outcomes such as depression symptoms and psychological distress. However, there has been little scholarly attention paid to the relationship between Buddhism, a non-Western religious faith, and symptoms of depression.
Link Between Religious Involvement and Symptoms of Depression
One of the studies analyzes the relationship between religious involvement and depression symptoms among married women in Bangkok using random survey data collected from metropolitan Thailand. Findings from multiple linear regression models show that:
In mindfulness meditation, there is a tendency to examine mental content rather than simply witnessing it.
This convergence of Buddhist practice and psychotherapy has only grown stronger in recent years. Books documenting the connections between the two systems have proliferated, and mindfulness meditation in a therapeutic setting is now standard. Indeed, immaculate, unshakable mental health is sometimes regarded as the ultimate objective of all dharma study and practice (3✔ ✔Trusted Source
Effects of Mindfulness on Psychological Health: A Review of Empirical Studies
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We should also keep in mind that these practices can help us prevent depression, but we should never shy away from seeing a doctor and getting professional help when we or our loved ones are experiencing a depressive state. In order to treat depression effectively, we must identify the specific causes and circumstances that can contribute to individual cases. Otherwise, there is a danger that the underlying cause will surface again.
- Moderating role of observing the five precepts of Buddhism on neuroticism, perceived stress, and depressive symptoms – (https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0277351)
- Buddhism and Depressive Symptoms among Married Women in Urban Thailand – (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7037506/)
- Effects of Mindfulness on Psychological Health: A Review of Empirical Studies – (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3679190/)