Paul phoned in to ask: What’s the Buddhist view on Antidepressants? Is it looked on the same as alcohol?
I hate to put words into Buddha’s mouth, but I suspect that his prohibition against intoxicants wasn’t intended to condemn medicinal treatments.
In a perfect world, antidepressants would not be necessary; you would have such perfect mental control that they would be redundant. In reality, that’s rarely the case. People battling depression (and it IS a battle) are not taking the drugs for enjoyment or pleasure; they are taking them in order to function. The fifth precept (‚ÄúI undertake the precept to refrain from taking intoxicants‚Äù) was not meant to harm anyone, but rather the point was to keep monks in line. You cannot meditate and reach Enlightenment when you are too drunk to sit up straight. On the other hand, you cannot meditate and reach enlightenment if your depression keeps you from caring one way or the other. If it takes antidepressant medication to get you through the day, then that’s just what it takes– there is no reason to judge it.
There is, however, a fine line between a necessary psychological/medical treatment and fueling an addiction. An addict needs his ‚Äúdrug‚Äù too, but as with many things dealing with karma, intention and motives have to be considered. We have occasionally talked about addiction and recovery here in the past, so if you are not actually taking the medication under a doctor’s supervision, I would look into some kind of treatment program.
as always, just my opinion. There ARE other viewpoints on this.