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Buddhism and Depression

For anyone who is/was suffering from depression, how is Buddhism helping you? I've been trying to cope with depression in itself, however I haven't been able to find anything to help. I do still recite mantras and all, however some days I just can't find the energy to get out of my bed and do it. I've noticed that I can't also keep concentrating while meditating (I don't know how to do it the 'right' way I guess, since I've never been taught by a person) and that really does hit me where in hurts (in a sense where I can't do anything right) and that just makes me angry (which is another problem as I seem to push away anyone who cares). In recent threads I've come across people learning to 'let go' their attachments, but I'm not sure how to let go. Especially with old 'scars' and such that other people inflicted. How do you let go of things like that and move on when it's still ringing in your head, especially when you try to find the 'calm place' while meditating? Basically, I'm looking for anyone who has a story to share in hopes of helping me get out of my on and off slump and actually help me with my depression.

I'm also looking into literature, with specific emphasis on Buddhism, as well as gardening to help give me a job over summer break.

Sophie101

Comments

  • JeffreyJeffrey Veteran
    edited May 2015

    I think some things working more on the feeling of the body can help with depression. Try walking meditation. Walking can bring energy into the practice of the body in motion. Also rituals can bring energy and by rituals I mean something simple like lighting a candle. All of the sudden the flame is lit and you made that happen. Everything is suddenly more alive. Filling bowls of water or placing flowers is also nice perhaps in a shrine.

    Have you tried medicine and therapy? I have schizoaffective which is mood disorder and schizophrenia at the same time. But I haven't had mood stuff in like 10 years and I don't know if I ever had it or if it is just my medicines have it under control.

    lobsterNamada
  • Rowan1980Rowan1980 Keeper of the Zoo Maine Veteran
    Buddhist practices such as analytical meditation have proven helpful to me. That said, I still include a low dose of an antidepressant, regular exercise, a good diet, and adequate sleep to the mix. I do not stick to just one thing to keep my depression and PMDD under control.
    lobsterTreeLuvr87
  • genkakugenkaku Northampton, Mass. U.S.A. Veteran

    @Guanyin -- One characteristic of Buddhism as I understand it is an unflinching investigation. Any investigation requires a gathering of facts, first, and then finding an appropriate solution ... not imagining you have the solution before the problem is adequately identified.

    Buddhism may be praised for a variety of reasons, but as a cure-all, it probably won't work. If depression needs addressing, then address it: A. Talk to a medical doctor; B. find a counselor of some sort and investigate the possibilities with someone trained in untangling the kind of vines that depression can grow.

    Acknowledging the problem is a good step. But if depression is recurrent and unremitting, then asking Buddhism to somehow cure it can be used as a way of avoiding, rather than addressing, the issues at hand.

    On a guess, I think Buddhism hopes you will be happy and whole. Being a Buddhist or splashing around in some Buddhist pond is not so much the point: Being happy and whole is the point. So unflinching investigation -- wherever it takes you -- is a good, if not always easy, idea.

    Best wishes.

    Jeffreylobster
  • TheswingisyellowTheswingisyellow Trying to be open to existence Samsara Veteran
    edited May 2015
    I would agree with genkaku. Having a proper understanding of what sort of triggers, habit and thought patterns you engage in that lead to such states, a therapist may be of immense benefit. I have had major depression issues much of my life. Buddhism has helped me be mindful of my feelings and thought patterns, it is work, but in recognizing how I feel and where I am at can help me not to slide down that slippery slope and engage that part of my brain. I found Jon Kabitt Zinns audiobook Mindfulness through Depression to be a very helpful start, I would engage in some sort of counseling as well. For me exercise, metta meditation, good sleep are certainly beneficial and when it's bad I fake it till I make it- I do what I don't want to do- engage my children, do art, play with the dogs, get up and do something that is wholesome and constructive. I know that is so difficult to do in that state, but try. This life is wonderful and my practice adds significantly to my life but to try to untie some of those knots on ones own can be immensely difficult if not impossible. It may surprise you how eye opening therapy can be. Therapy gives you practice tools to work with what is going on and gives you understanding of yourself. The
    Buddhism is a wonderful adjunct, delicious Icing on the cake.
    May you be well
    May you be happy
    May you be at ease
    May you be free from suffering- your worth it :)
    lobsterEarthninja
  • SpinyNormanSpinyNorman It's still all old bollocks Veteran

    @Guanyin said:Basically, I'm looking for anyone who has a story to share in hopes of helping me get out of my on and off slump and actually help me with my depression.

    I would recommend you getting some professional help with this.

  • federicafederica seeker of the clear blue sky Moderator
    edited May 2015

    @SpinyNorman said: I would recommend you getting some professional help with this.

    I agree.

    Furthermore, I would caution anyone (and I'm not suggesting this is what you are doing OP, but I'm mentioning it as it's in context) against them considering Buddhism to be the cure for any kind of mental affliction.
    In and of itself, following Buddhism is not a cure.
    The cure for such things lies within the person's own understanding and implementation of what Buddhism teaches.

    The Buddha has been likened to a Doctor, prescribing a medicine to offer relief, comfort and eventual healing.

    Like any medicine, it is pointless if taken incorrectly, or even not taken at all....

    Buddhism can't help you.
    What you do with it, can however, create tiny little miracles in your life, which you should use as stepping stones to a better state....

    lobsterRowan1980
  • lobsterlobster Veteran

    @Guanyin said:
    I'm also looking into literature, with specific emphasis on Buddhism, as well as gardening to help give me a job over summer break.

    Gardening is a great job (well I like it). It is very grounding, you get light and exercise which is good for depression. If you have clinical depression then medication and therapy is a route. My sister suffers from clinical depression as did my farther. Very difficult condition to be involved with. So take all the help steps you can find.

  • HamsakaHamsaka goosewhisperer Polishing the 'just so' Veteran

    Back when the Buddha lived and taught, 'depression' as you know it and experience it (me too) didn't really exist. I mean, it DID exist, but it wasn't conceptualized in the way we conceptualize things nowadays. In other words, we've come a LONG way since the Buddha, who lived in the Iron age for gosh sakes.

    There was no therapy or medication, no psychiatrists or clinics or any of that back then, but does that mean there's no place for these things in a modern Buddhist practice?

    Sometimes people imagine that a religion or philosophy can do the whole 'trick' of only they could just do it WELL ENOUGH, if only they could just meditate well enough, or try hard enough to study and live their practice, that will drive the depression away. This reminds me of the Christian (and some others) sects that refuse medical care and resort to prayer (and end up dying).

    Modern medical and psychiatric care are NOT antithetical to working a sound Buddhist practice. Yet people get this idea, and so many do that your kind of question is common.

    Your practice will be 'better' when you get the proper medical attention for your depression. And no doubt your practice will do it's own magic on your depression, and perhaps there will be a day where you have to admit you are no longer depressed at all.

    Depression is happening in your brain, in the synapses and with the neurochemicals. It's not a free-floating state of mind that just happened to land in your head, it's not imaginary or something you can attribute to pure mind (whatever the heck that is).

    If you had diabetes, you'd still see your doctor and check your blood sugars rather than hope meditation and mantras would cure it. Depression is just as physically rooted in your body as diabetes. It affects your mind, but isn't caused by your mind. Your mind is just fine. And knowing the difference between 'mind' and whatever one's brain is doing is an important distinction.

    Welcome aboard, and do what many of us have already done -- seek professional help and keep on meditating, mantra-ing and gardening!

    Rowan1980Walkernakazcidpossibilities
  • ShoshinShoshin No one in particular Nowhere Special Veteran

    @Guanyin, how easy is it to access professional help in the area of India where you live?

  • SarahTSarahT Time ... space ... joy South Coast, UK Veteran

    Only thing that's helped me with my depression is, after 20 years of searching, finding an anti-depressant that works for me. Buddhism, on the other hand, helps me with life :heart:

    Rowan1980federicalobster
  • @Jeffrey I've been interested in starting a homemade Buddhist Shrine. My mom already has a Hindu one which has Ganesh in it, however I felt like it didn't do much for me. I've tried medicine but with not very good side effects. I was fine other than when I would get mad, I wouldn't be able to shake it off, it would stick with me and I would 'rage' so to speak. As for therapy, I tried it, and didn't like anyone getting in my past really. Tried it for two months tho. Thanks for the help!

    @lobster Thanks for the link! I'll check it out!

    @Rowan1980 How exactly does one properly practice 'analytical meditation'? I changed my diet by cutting out a lot of fast food. Thanks for the help!

    @genkaku I've spoken to medical doctors, however at the end they just don't seem to help really. I've been dealing with it over 10 years and I've started seeking help at the end of this past year, but all the cousnelors/therapists say the same thing and say medication will help, which it didn't really in my case. Thanks for the help!

    @Theswingisyellow Thanks for the help!

    @SpinyNorman I've tried, but I'm n ot really comfortable with this as it didn't help really. Thanks for the help!

    @federica I don't mean to say that I'm looking for Buddhism to be a cure, I apologize as it does sound like that in my post. I'm more into Buddhism as it brings a new perspective/understanding in my life that I enjoy. I'm trying to make 'stepping stones' myself by doing things I enjoy or stepping out of comfort zone. Thanks for the help!

    @lobster I wish I could actually do it haha. My parents are telling me no since I'm going off to college, and since I don't have a job right now and using their money, I oblige. I do have clinical depression, however I don't wish to be trapped within a medication. Thanks for the help!

    @Hamsaka Thanks, that really helps!

    @Shoshin I'm not too sure. But I'm not really for it as it didn't help the other few times. And it's not my money I'm spending if I go to see one so it does make me feel uncomfortable.

    @SarahT I just don't have the time or the patience to test try all the medication out there to see which one helps me. Since the career I want to do is essentially me going out in the wilderness, for sometimes months on end, I don't want to be bound by prescriptions, I want to overcome it myself. (If that makes sense at all haha) Thanks for the help!

    @Earthninja Thanks for the help!

  • SpinyNormanSpinyNorman It's still all old bollocks Veteran

    This might be of interest: http://www.wildmind.org/metta

  • silversilver In the beginning there was nothing, and then it exploded. USA, Left coast. Veteran

    Greetings @Guanyin. I think it sounds like you've got it more together than you realize.

    And yes, @SpinyNorman the link is cool. I like it.

  • Will_BakerWill_Baker Vermont Veteran

    I'm not sure how to let go. Especially with old 'scars' and such that other people inflicted. How do you let go of things like that and move on when it's still ringing in your head...
    -I was, and sometimes still am, depressed and manic :-) What works for me is focusing on the reality of my life as a series of moments. For me, this was a liberating and healing idea. Also, forgiveness of others and myself is key, blanket forgivenes with no reservation.

    May you be well...

    Traveller
  • ShoshinShoshin No one in particular Nowhere Special Veteran
    edited May 2015

    @Guanyin if you feel that professional conventional help is of no use, you might like to try MBCBT "Mindfulness Base Cognitive Behavioural Therapy"

    And this is the guided audio book "The Mindful Way Through Depression" by Mark Williams,_John Teasdale, Zindel Segal, and Jon Kabat-Zinn

    MBCBT works for some, but not for others ( you might be the 'some' )

    "The most essential method which includes all other methods is to behold the mind- The mind is the root from which all things grow-If you can understand the mind-Everything else is included!"

    Bodhidharma

  • JeffreyJeffrey Veteran

    sometimes it takes numerous tries at different medicines and different doses. i've been on medicines for 14 years and have an appointment with the doctor every 3 months. Almost every meeting we change or try something else to improve either the symptoms or reduce the side effects. there are loads of medicines. depends how severe your depression is. if it's not that bad you probably won't want to accept the side effects such as less libido. but if your suffering of depression is unbelievable then who cares about libido?

  • NamadaNamada Veteran
    edited May 2015

    @Guanyin "How do you let go of things like that and move on when it's still ringing in your head, especially when you try to find the 'calm place' while meditating?"

    Meditation is what it is, sometimes calm, sometimes terrible, it goes up and down...
    So dont crave for this peace, just observe what happens...when this craving is gone, then you are more open to things as it is.

    And see it as uncertain and impermanent, everything changes all the time, your body, your mood, your friends, its nothing to hold on to, its all uncertain :)

    So please dont feed your suffering, dont give it food...

    Iam sooo depressed today? Why? , be critical to what your moneky mind is telling you and investigate it...what do I crave for when all is uncertain anyway, its just a lump of foam:)

    touch it softly, and then let it go...see things with out any owner
    you dont own one thing, not even your depression...

    TravellerJeffrey
  • Straight_ManStraight_Man Gentle Man Punta Gorda, Florida, USA Veteran

    One thing I found was this: turned out I was hypothyroid. I slept 15-16 hours a day, had no energy when awake. One thing might be to get your thyroid hormone levels checked if you can. Once I got my thyroid hormones stabilized with a cheap product called levothyroxine, I had energy. The hypothyroidism mimiced lack of energy from depression. The depression I had also dropped away. Might work for you, might not. The blood testing and meds are cheap where I live, and might turn out the same where you live. Short form-- might want to get your thyroid hormones checked.

    ShoshinJeffrey
  • Sadly wasn't able to meditate or recite mantras today. Hopefully tomorrow I'll be able to!

    @SpinyNorman Thanks for the link!

    @silver If only I felt like I have it more together! haha

    @Will_Baker Growing up I was physically and mentally abused and I've learned to forgive the people for doing so, however I've never been able to forgive myself. Also, some past years in my life I've done some things I can't forgive myself for no matter how hard I try. I want to be able to forgive people in my day-day activities, however around those I love, I'm confrontational.

    @Jeffrey I just don't see myself being stuck to something such as medicine. I always try to go on with my day to day life without any medicine if it can be helped as I'd like to live a more natural life.

    @Namada Thanks for that, I appreciate it!

    @Straight_Man I'm pretty sure I had my hormones already checked this past November, but I'm not too sure. I'll look into it, thanks!

  • JeffreyJeffrey Veteran
    edited May 2015

    Hi @Guanyin. I totally understand your view of not wanting to be on medicine. Being on medicine sucks for me. But the alternative symptoms I would have are MUCH worse than the symptoms I would have if I stopped taking my medicine.

  • SpinyNormanSpinyNorman It's still all old bollocks Veteran

    Years ago I went through a bad time and was on anti-depressants for about 18 months. They definitely helped, though I was also glad to come off them due to the side-effects.

  • WalkerWalker Veteran
    edited May 2015

    I'm currently taking Effexor. Went through a bad bout of anxiety awhile back and I must say it helped get me to a better place. However, my therapist said that I myself was more responsible for my recovery by taking steps to help myself, in particular I started taking beginner Hatha yoga classes and meditating. The drugs are meant to just 'kick-start' the brain as it were. The side effects were unpleasant at first, but subsided after a couple of weeks, and one actually kind of reversed itself (I won't go into details, maybe other people will know what I'm talking about.) =)

    Haven't tried to get off it yet though, that's something I need to talk to my therapist about.

  • 0student00student0 Explorer
    From personal experience I can just say that medication helps a great deal. At the end of the day what matters to me is whether I can feel good about myself and do the things I need to do - that wouldn't be possible without the meds.
    And don't give up on therapy too fast.
    As for meditation, I'm just starting, so I don't really know how helpful it is.
  • Will_BakerWill_Baker Vermont Veteran
    edited May 2015

    @Will_Baker Growing up I was physically and mentally abused and I've learned to forgive the people for doing so, however I've never been able to forgive myself. Also, some past years in my life I've done some things I can't forgive myself for no matter how hard I try. I want to be able to forgive people in my day-day activities, however around those I love, I'm confrontational.
    -In my opinion, just forgive yourself. It is that simple. Find some space by yourself and declare out loud: "I forgive myself; and mean it. It is that easy...

  • federicafederica seeker of the clear blue sky Moderator

    No; it's that simple. But "simple" doesn't always mean "easy"....

  • Will_BakerWill_Baker Vermont Veteran

    Agreed, "simple" doesn't always mean "easy," but in this case I believe it does...

  • federicafederica seeker of the clear blue sky Moderator
    edited May 2015

    You've obviously never suffered from clinical depression.
    If you had done you would not be so quick to offer such simplistic and frankly dismissive solutions.
    It can take years to recognise and treat depression adequately, enough to sufficiently awaken in some the desire to even get out of bed.
    Words are very easy to say, yes. There, I agree. Anyone can declare they forgive themselves.
    That though, is not the battle.
    The battle is to convince one's self that it's even possible, let alone true.

    silverVictoriouslobster
  • VictoriousVictorious Grim Veteran

    Not underestimating the severity of Clinical Depression. I have always considered the drawbacks of the definition.

    For instance from here.
    http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/depression/expert-answers/clinical-depression/faq-20057770

    If you think about it it means that two people who suffer the same experience/trauma might not get the same diagnosis. Those that are not diagnosed are overlooked thereby missing vital information on how to prevent the condition that might have helped those that did get the diagnose.

    For instance Buddhists practice to let go of things. And if someone is skilled in letting go they might more easily avoid a severe depression.

    By ignoring these individuals medicine misses the opportunity to understand and prevent depression in others.

    Am I wrong?

    I wonder how many more of these "definitions" there are in clinical medicine...

    /Victor

  • Will_BakerWill_Baker Vermont Veteran

    @federica said:
    You've obviously never suffered from clinical depression.
    If you had done you would not be so quick to offer such simplistic and frankly dismissive solutions.
    It can take years to recognise and treat depression adequately, enough to sufficiently awaken in some the desire to even get out of bed.
    Words are very easy to say, yes. There, I agree. Anyone can declare they forgive themselves.
    That though, is not the battle.
    The battle is to convince one's self that it's even possible, let alone true.

    -Look, Guanyin asked for information and I gave it, from the heart. Have I ever been depressed? Ha! There was a time I didn't want to get out of bed, yes I know how that feels. Suicidal? Yup, check that box too. I didn't know I needed to demonstrate how screwed up I was in order to validate my opinion on this subject. Thanks for the opportunity...

  • vinlynvinlyn Colorado...for now Veteran

    I think both WIll_Baker and Federica are correct because, different experiences, different perspectives.

    I went through a period of depression myself, was on Paxil for a fair period of time. And pretty much got over it when certain issues that were outside of me cleared up. And, despite my doctor's feeling on it, quit Paxil and got on with living. That's one experience.

    But I had a teacher who would go into depression and sooner or later seemingly disappear off the face of the earth. One time, after 2.5 years she called one day and asked if she still had a job.

    Different experiences, different perspectives.

  • geniegenie Explorer

    I dont have a solution, but I am asking the esteemed members out of curiosity. If only medicine or therapy can help, wouldn't that make Buddhism redundant?

  • Straight_ManStraight_Man Gentle Man Punta Gorda, Florida, USA Veteran
    edited May 2015

    Well, IMHO Buddhism is not a cure, but it can be a set of stepping-stones that (with meds and doctor support as needed) can help. That is from my experience.

  • vinlynvinlyn Colorado...for now Veteran

    @Genie, my suggestion is that if one is significantly medically depressed (and by that I mean in a situation beyond what my son would call "a bad patch", which we all have now and then), medicine and/or therapy are needed. However, a good grounding in a belief system which leads to a more well adjusted self is also of assistance to recovery.

  • WalkerWalker Veteran

    I've heard it said gardening is one of the best hobbies for quiet contemplation.

    federicaGuanyin
  • ZenniZenni Veteran

    Definitely! And healing too...

    Doing the work (therapeutic )
    Feeling accomplished (satisfaction)
    Watching the growth (in awe of miracles)

    WalkerGuanyin
  • ShoshinShoshin No one in particular Nowhere Special Veteran

    Sugar and depression link This might be of interest to some members who suffer from depression....

    Guanyin
  • Hi Guanyin,
    I'm new here so am unfamiliar with how things flow on this site. I've had anxiety since Nov 2010 and it has morphed into depression over the past 11 months as well. I've spent hours reading up on the subject and chose to read Buddhist texts to help me adapt to the stresses I was under (being ousted from a very successful family business, litigation against my father, threat of bankruptcy, pursuit by tax office and SETTLEMENT). I've been left with scars no doubt but I've also been left with valuable lessons. I am on meds but prefer to be under medicated which encourages me to find relief with meditation etc and I see a psych which is invaluable if you find the right one. I'm on my 3rd!
    I've been meditating about 5 times per week for 4 years and it's been very helpful. I'm at the point where I can relax my major muscles and enjoy that relaxation over and over again if I have to. It's still difficult to deal with any bad news that comes my way but it's easier than it was before. I hate taking the meds even though I'm a pharmacist! You are on a winning formula with meditation and Buddhism but it takes time and you've never been closer to succeeding than where you are now.
    Have you seen how many youtube posts come up when you type in "20 min guided meditation"? They're really good and are so accessible.
    How are you going?

    silverGuanyinlobsterZenni
  • Thanks everyone! Gardening is going well and it's been peaceful so to speak. Still haven't meditated, but that's because I haven't had a time where it has been quiet in my house. But I did manage to get the book 'The Heart of the Buddha's Teaching' which I will start soon so I have my hopes up for it!

    I'm thinking of getting an 'idol' or 'statue' so to speak to help me stay focused or bring a better routine in my day to day meditations. Does anyone have one and has it changed the way they go about their day by any means?

  • VictoriousVictorious Grim Veteran

    I see I did not really answer your question.

    To begin with dont get your hopes up that a book will change your life. But it might inspire you!

    Secondly I think practising the Dhamma does give you a better ability to face life but it is no magic. Just hard work.

    Battling acute depression is an every day, every hour and sometimes every minute job.

    /Victor

    Zenni
  • I like the idea of exploring one's thinking...
    Regularly consider which cognitive distortions you're believing, and thus feeling depressed about.
    Also, consider which life-trap/schema you've developed as a coping method in childhood, but as an adult is more problematic than helpful.

    Gardening or just DOING something - being productive is good.
    Also, I'm learning to ride the waves.
    Some moments are awesome, some suck.
    As much as I don't like the down times, they help me appreciate the up times.
    "Gratitude is not just a good virtue, but the parent of all virtues."

    ZennilobsterShoshin
  • sovasova delocalized fractyllic harmonizing great lakes Veteran

    Buddha's teaching is a lot more than mantras!

    http://blog.vajrapani.org/featured/featured-authors-articles/item/409-100-days-of-giving.html

    I started my 100 Days of Giving project because I was struggling with feelings of loneliness and depression. In the book I Like Giving by Brad Formsma, a particular quote really struck me: "You can give without loving, but you can't love without giving."

    Garden flowers for the neighborI wanted to live a loving life, so decided to live a more giving one and see what changed. I set the goal to do 100 days of giving and documenting them on Facebook - not for pats on the back, but because part of the benefit of giving is it inspires others to give, and spreads happiness. It also kept me accountable - and helped me keep count of the days!

    At the end of the 100 days, I was asked to share what I learned and experienced. Generosity is the first of the six perfections in Buddhism and lays the foundation for the other five. Without really planning it, I had the chance to try all four of the types of giving – giving material things, giving Dharma (good advice), giving love, and giving protection. I normally do a lot of things that are technically generous, but most often because it's expected – from a sense of obligation that it's the right thing to do. It was totally different to give with a really strong intention of generosity – so much more rewarding, even when it meant a lot of effort. On bad or depressed days, it absolutely lifted my mood every time.

    lobsterfederica
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