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New study finds Buddhism can lower the risk of depression

Devi Rahman/AFP via Getty Images
  • Researchers at Chiang Mai University in Thailand have linked the observation of Buddhist precepts to a lower risk of developing depression.

  • The study, which took place over nearly three years, was published in the Public Library of Science One on Nov 30.

  • The researchers concluded that those who followed the Five Precepts of Buddhism had a lower risk for depression.

  • Previous research has demonstrated that following the precepts can affect an individual’s relationship toward attachment and resilience.

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Researchers at Chiang Mai University in Thailand have linked the observation of Buddhist precepts to a lower risk of developing depression. 

The study, published on Nov. 30 in the peer-reviewed scientific journal Public Library of Science One (PLOS One), took place over nearly three years.

Although the particular practice of the religion may differ regionally and culturally, the study’s authors said they focused specifically on the five precepts of Buddhism because past research has shown they “significantly affect the relationship between attachment and resilience.”

The five precepts include: “abstain from taking life, abstain from taking what is not given, abstain from sensuous misconduct [or misusing the senses], abstain from false speech, and abstain from intoxicants that could cloud the mind.” 

For their study, the researchers surveyed 644 participants aged 18 to 72 in Thailand, all of whom completed questionnaires about their level of perceived stress, depression and neuroticism. They also answered questions about whether they followed the aforementioned precepts. 

“Observing the Five Precepts showed evidence that it buffers the effect of perceived stress on depression. People with the high levels of observing the Five Precepts would be less likely to develop depressive symptoms,” the researchers concluded. 

The researchers built upon previous research that found that following the five precepts of Buddhism “significantly affect[s] the relationship between attachment and resilience.”

The researchers noted that further research is warranted.

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