Anti depressant and karma

Hi all,

Just a short and quick question. People who suffer from mental illness, in some point of their lives need to take medication, this is normal in general.

But according to some people they do not agree with this, because one should pay or experience what one has sown, anti depressant doesn’t solve this. Anti depressant is also seen as something that is hindering people from seeing dukkha therefore is not encouraged.

Does anyone have any thoughts? Thanks.

EDIT: Including other mental illness problems e.g. anxiety disorder, OCD, depression, etc.


Ignorance hinders people from seeing dukkha, not medicine.


Yes, well said !

The problem with depression is that it blocks, more or less, the energy, the willpower, the enthusiasm. While in depression the ill person has no power to change the situation he/she is stuck in. Leaving him in that situation, when there might be help throug medicine is somewhat cruel and not very buddhist


There are degrees of mental illness. Some degrees of mental illness require medication. Others do not require medication but only require social support (i.e., metta).

At least for depression itself, many people are taking anti-depressants due to a lack of social & emotional support because such people require lots of social support & wise counselling (which is rare to find).

For example, I have supported a person through her depression for the last 18 months and now she is through the most dark (suicidal) period. All of her friends abandoned her, told her to see a doctor for medication; her husband cannot cope; and her Catholic mother cannot help much. I was talking to her by phone for around 3 to 4 hours per day (fortunate because I work from home). I said to her often if she took anti-depressants I would abandon her. I asked her often about her friends who are now reliant on/addicted to anti-depressants and does she want to be like them? She said: “no”.

I assume it is all on a case-by-case basis.

As for Buddhism & ‘karma’ (similar to evangelizing about ‘God’), I would say we should avoid allowing these to cloud our judgment since realisation is not so easy, for Buddhists, let alone non-Buddhists.

I agree. Depending on the situation, a temporary period of medication can actually help a person see more clearly. Again, it is a case-by-case situation.


Dear Deele: I feel that it’s great that you are being a good friend to this person and remaining of support to her during this difficult period. But, keep in mind that using a threat to “abandon her” if she uses medication is counterproductive, and I feel, very unskillful. I appreciate that your intentions here are good, but she likely needs to believe she has your unconditional support, as a friend and even kalyana mitta, and not feel that she needs to adhere to your counsel for fear of being abandoned by you and some the other of the people in her life.

She needs support, and good therapy, and this therapy likely includes seeing a psychologist and a psychiatrist. Many people with clinical depression benefit from medication, and it is really up to a physician to determine if she would benefit from one of the many newer medications that have helped people with clinical depression. A psychologist can also help her with cognitive therapy, so that she has good cognitive guidance in managing her depression, along with the support of friends, like you.

Help her by locating a psychiatrist or psychologist in your community that has a good reputation, and help her set up an appointment to be evaluated. If her depression is severe, or she suggests any kind of self harm, have her go to the hospital.

Just like diabetes and insulin, a person with diabetes will not function without insulin, regardless of their social supports. One wouldn’t counsel a diabetic to go off insulin, and seek more social support for their illness. The same case can be made for people with clinical depression; depression is often caused by a chemical imbalance in the brain that can be regulated by appropriate medication.


Thanks. But it is all under control. Her cognitive wisdom is very weak but she is very strong morally. Her instinct to avoid self-harm (hiri-ottappa) is strong. She will make it, being in good hands. :innocent: Since I have assisted her for 18 months, with no complaints from her mother or partner, I trust my assessment is far more precise. With metta.