Ancient Wisdom, Modern Relief: The Link Between Buddhism’s Five Precepts and Depression Resilience

September 15th, 2023

By John Patterson

Staff Writer for Wake Up World

In a modern world inundated with the pressures of stress and anxiety, the pursuit of effective solutions for battling depression has compelled researchers to venture into uncharted territories. A study conducted by Nahathai Wongpakaran and a team of researchers hailing from Chiang Mai University, Thailand, has illuminated an intriguing connection between the ethical underpinnings of Buddhism and the alleviation of depressive symptoms.

The fruits of their labor were unveiled in the pages of the open-access journal PLOS ONE, gracing the world on November 30, 2022. This compelling research dives deep into the latent advantages of embracing Buddhism’s sacred Five Precepts, offering a potential pathway to mitigate the impact of neuroticism and stress on the harrowing domain of depression.

The Power of Buddhism’s Five Precepts

Buddhism’s Five Precepts have long been revered as a guide to ethical conduct for its followers. These precepts, which encompass refraining from killing, stealing, engaging in sexual misconduct, telling malicious lies, and using intoxicants, offer a roadmap for leading a virtuous and harmonious life. Previous research had indicated that the observance of these precepts could enhance general well-being and the quality of life, even for those who aren’t fully devoted practitioners. However, this study embarked on a novel path, investigating whether these precepts could also serve as a shield against depressive symptoms, particularly for those at higher risk.

The Study’s Methodology

The researchers conducted an extensive online survey spanning from late 2019 to September 2022, involving 644 adults from Thailand. This survey employed established questionnaires to assess each participant’s perceived stress, neuroticism levels, depressive symptoms, and their adherence to the Five Precepts. The objective was to untangle the intricate connections between neuroticism, stress, and depression, and to illuminate whether strict observance of the precepts could act as a buffer against these factors.

The Interplay Between Neuroticism, Stress, and Depression

Prior research has consistently pointed out the link between neuroticism and an increased susceptibility to depression. Neurotic individuals tend to experience negative emotions more intensely, which makes them vulnerable to the ravages of depressive symptoms. The research also highlighted the role of perceived stress, the psychological response to life’s challenges, in exacerbating the risk of depression.

The Role of the Five Precepts

The results of this study shed light on a compelling link between the Five Precepts and the mitigation of depressive symptoms. The statistical analysis of the survey data revealed that a robust adherence to the precepts seemed to counteract the influence of perceived stress on depression. This suggests that individuals who experience high levels of neuroticism and stress might find solace in the practice of these precepts, potentially leading to a decreased likelihood of developing depressive symptoms.


Implications and Considerations

While these findings offer a glimmer of hope, it is crucial to note that the study does not establish a definitive cause-and-effect relationship. The participants in this study were predominantly female and lived alone, with varying degrees of religious involvement. Although a significant majority (93.3%) identified as Buddhist, the application of these findings to a broader population and individuals of different faiths necessitates further exploration.

In Conclusion

In a world grappling with the burden of mental health issues, the study by Wongpakaran and colleagues brings forth a fascinating prospect. By adhering to Buddhism’s Five Precepts, individuals may find a haven from the storms of neuroticism, stress, and depression. Although this research sets the stage for a potential solution, it also underscores the need for continued investigation. As we journey towards a more profound understanding of the human mind, the wisdom of ancient practices may hold the key to a brighter and more balanced future.


  1. Nahathai Wongpakaran, Phurich Pooriwarangkakul, Nadnipa Suwannachot, Zsuzsanna Mirnics, Zsuzsanna Kövi, Tinakon Wongpakaran. Moderating role of observing the five precepts of Buddhism on neuroticism, perceived stress, and depressive symptomsPLOS ONE, 2022; 17 (11): e0277351 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0277351

About the author:

John Patterson is an avid writer and researcher who delves into the latest scientific research. With an insatiable curiosity, he translates complex concepts into accessible narratives, allowing readers to embark on a journey of discovery. Through his work, John bridges the gap between experts and the public, igniting curiosity and inspiring meaningful conversations about scientific breakthroughs.