Another good antidote for a person suffering from depression.

Continuing with our discussion of world religions  and  proposed antidotes for depression today we will again focus on Buddhism. This is the second in a series.

“Buddhist teachings provide very good antidote for people suffering from depression. “Morita Therapy”  is a well known example of applying Buddhism,  especially Zen Buddhism, to psychotherapy. Morita Therapy  is a therapeutic technique developed by the Japanese Psychologist Shoma Morita (1874-1938).

One of the main concepts  of Morita psychotherapy is the following:

Desire for life, according to Morita, the basic force of human being is the strong desire for life. The converse of this is the  fear of death, both being aspects of the same force. The efforts of human beings  to lead a fulfilled life are all manifestations of the desire for life. At the same time a manifestation of desire for life is the tendency to fear curtailments and threat’s to one’s well being; Morita calls this tendency “hypochrondical   basic tone”.  This tendency is common to all human beings, but in introverted and very sensitive persons, this can be a starting point of a process which finally ends in depression and neurosis.


Psychic interaction: if attention is paid to some sensation, the sensation becomes very sharp, and by mutual interaction of sensation and attention, the sensation will become more and more excessive. This is kind of vicious circle which grows out of being prepossessed with one’s over sensitiveness, for example, sad feelings, hopelessness, fear, distraction, insomnia and so on.

Self: suggestion: self suggestion helps to fix a problem in the form of a symptom through formation of a conviction that, for example, blushing is abnormal, and endless repetition of this conviction, so that rational reflection is excluded. This free-floating attention, a main characteristic of health and productive person, is lost, and attention is always fixed on the same ideas.

Contradiction of thought: sensations and feelings are an integral part of human life; they arise, reach their climax and vanish. The inclination to contrast a present feeling or sensation with the ideal state, and trying hard to realize this ideal state instead of pursuing the task at hand, is called contradiction of thought by Morita. Contradiction  of thought, aided by self-suggestion, works together in the formation of neurosis and depression.

To be as one is: “this means that if he feels depressed, he accepts his feeling of depression. If he feels anxious, he accepts the feelings of anxiety. Rather than direct his attention to his feeling state, he instead directs his efforts toward living his life well.”



SOURCE:  The Proceedings of the  XVIII International Conference, organized by the Pontifical Council for Health pastoral Care. DEPRESSION, (2003) Pages 113-119. The Perspective of Buddhism.



It is no wonder that after all these years that I have finally got smart. How many times have I made  a resolution to do this or do that and most often as not I couldn’t make it past the first week without falling on my face. So is NOT making a resolution, in fact making a resolution? Well, I think yes it is. I Can’t win!  But don’t you think not doing something is easier that trying to do something that could be challenging and even uncomfortable. And I say to myself, “myself, yes, right on!”

For instance let’s say that I make a resolution  to get up out of bed and do an exercise activity to get my day started. I am making a resolution to do this three times a week. So far so good. I just know from what I read and from other folks who exercise how helpful this is to  put some of our depression symptoms in the back seat. And then we decide that Monday is the day we start our program of exercise.  And Monday comes and we decide that today is too soon to start and we tell ourselves we’ll do it when we feel better. Right now,  we tell ourselves, I am just to tired to do any activity at all today. So there goes the resolution.  So, now we wait for Wednesday to get started.  And on and on the resistance to do anything to overcome our depression symptoms goes by the wayside.

Another scenario is from my own past. When I became depressed I really didn’t have a clue what was going inside of me but I knew something wasn’t right. I could hardly force myself out of the bed in the morning–couldn’t wait to get off work so that I could go to bed–before 5PM. Most unusual for me. I was gradually losing any purpose for my life.   Work.  Bed. Work. I was scared and thought that I was losing my mind. Could not retain a thought. Could not remember a paragraph that I had just finished reading.  What to do? No answer popped  in  my mind. But I knew one thing–I had to get out of bed and go to work or there would be no way to take care of my bills.  So I made a commitment to exercise. One day at a time. A resolution?

I just knew I MUST force myself out of bed…sneakers at my bedside — alarm clock across the room in which I had to get up to turn the awful sounding thing off. In time , by forcing myself to get up, go exercise, I gradually found the fog lift. I learned a great lesson.

Let’s put it this way if you will. I knew something worse would happen if I didn’t get moving. For me there was no “I’ll do it when I feel better,” and putting off taking care of myself. Nothing can happen unless you make the choice to do something today. Is your life at the same point as was mine?  If it is, then force yourself to do what you don’t want to do and watch as feelings, moods and behaviors all begin to change.  For the better you! Happy New Year! One day at a time. All we have is this 24 hour period. Treat yourself kindly!


Just what does it mean to “open up the closed system of depression symptoms? ”  Basically, it means that we have determined that there are 6 major  portals, with their own unique and negative characteristics. The strategy is to develop a number of positive  and opposing  procedures for the characteristics of each portal, which can  in turn do just the opposite of those which continue to keep us in the pit of desolation and helplessness. In a sense we will be opening up that closed system, which like the bars of a prison cell, keep us locked down and isolated. By learning something about each of the six gateways to our personal lives, we will possess the tools that can open up and break down the walls of each of these portals.

Let’s talk a bit of what these portals look like.  Together we are aware how they form a massive obstacle to our moving out of the closed and deadly system. But taken each alone, we have a chance to break down their individual  negative components and replace them with small positive steps of motivating ourselves toward change.

  QUESTION: How do you eat an elephant? ANSWER: One bit at a time. And the same holds true for what we are proposing to you today.  Let’s consider  the following categories which make up the essential attributes  of the human person. By entering any one of them and making changes in their unique characteristics we are indirectly affecting for good all the other five categories. These portals with their unique  identities are all inter related and what affects one affects all. By the same token, the symptoms of depression affect all the other portals and together promote a tightly closed system which is highly impregnable.

The six portals that open us to   the closed system of depression are the following: (1)THINKING (2) FEELING (3) BEHAVIOR (4) MOTIVATIONAL (5) PHYSIOLOGICAL (6) SPIRITUALITY.

For today, let’s take a look at the first portal: the thinking gateway. Here are the characteristics of this portal: mistaken beliefs, worthless, guilt, self-accusations, self-dislike, failures, self -hatred, suicidal thinking, hopeless and helpless thinking. Now, with these characteristics staring us in the face, we can choose to look at each of the above and decide which one or ones can I muster up the energy to defeat and turn around? For starters, how can I change any beliefs about myself? I can give you one solution   and that  is to get into a fellowship of folks like yourself who will mirror to you the strengths that you really possess.   In other words, by  taking  a more solution focused approach  to oneself rather than concentrating on the negative,  this continues that gradual diminution of all that keeps us imprisoned. And just to show connections between portals, the Behavior portal discusses social withdrawal. If I think that I am worthless and inferior I surely won’t want to move around in social environments. We gradually with time and work  open the tight grip of the closed system of depression on our lives. We now have the toolkit whereby we can dismantle those old beliefs that undermined our best selves. We now are at the beginning of  a new system filled with hope and the courage to let go of the past!      More tomorrow.