Depression, Antidepressants and the Dhamma

I just read a very interesting article on depression and anti-depressants. Although not alluded to explicitly, reading about the general underlying cause of depression and the release from it echoed the Buddhist path to me.

Seeing and understanding the Four Noble Truths with the sixteen aspects and living, by choice, a life of intention, keeping precepts and not being fooled by taking impermanence as permanence, taking suffering as happiness, taking not-self as self and taking ugliness as beauty would go a long way to what the author of the article was writing about.

If you’re interested, read the entire article.


I also think of contentment, as some of the replies in the discussion on contentment touch on.

How contentment can be practiced for lay followers?

I found the Hari excerpt weak, to be honest. What he presents as paradigm-changing discoveries are pretty standard views and teaching on depression. I thought this article offers a nice critique of Hari’s stance.

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I skimmed through the article. Granted, we have been led to believe popping a pill will be the panacea for all our ills. Yes, I agree society has lost meaning . There is scientific criteria for events leading up to depression. The article does state there are two biological factors including genes which can contribute to depression.
I have a familial history of depression. I also have been involved in some traumatic events.
With this combination I developed depression. I was adamant that I was not going to take antidepressants, but I was experiencing a major depressive episode. Instead of viewing the world with its vibrancy of colours, I was seeing it under the glare of the sun–colours flat and dull.
I also just had my antidepressants increased; not for depression but for use as off label for another medical condition.
Yes, Dhamma has allowed me to incrementally let go and realize this life is full of suffering and stressors. And this too will pass…the good times and the bad times.
And yet there are definite psychiatric diagnosis which medication is duly indicated.


I didn’t intend to espouse Hari’s theories or even Burnett’s rebuttal and I honestly don’t expect to find the best answers from psychology or science, though I still find them interesting and valuable. The article simply made me think of how billions of people go through life pursuing happiness solely through what is impossible to bring a lasting quenching and come up short and don’t know why. I’ve known and know of lots of people with clearly real physiological causes for depression and other barriers and I wouldn’t dismiss viable treatments. I was thinking more about the average person for whom antidepressants are not needed and won’t work for, those who have never been aware of nor considered the dhamma, the path to the lost city, people who have no idea of the 4NTs. Just food for thought.

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