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Five precepts of Buddhism may be linked to lower risk of depression – Neuroscience News

Summary: According to a new study, those who score high on neuroticism and stress have a reduced risk of developing depression if they follow the Five Precepts of Buddhism.

Source: OLP

People with high levels of neuroticism and stress may be at higher risk for developing depressive symptoms, a new study suggests, but those links could be dimmed for people who observe the Five Precepts of Buddhism, a fundamental system of ethics. for followers of religion.

Nahathai Wongpakaran of Chiang Mai University, Thailand, and colleagues present these findings in the open-access journal PLOS ONE on November 30, 2022.

The Five Precepts of Buddhism guide followers not to kill, steal, engage in sexual misconduct, tell malicious lies, or use intoxicants.

Previous research suggests that observing the Five Precepts can improve the well-being and quality of life of the general public, including non-serious followers. However, it has been less clear whether the Five Precepts could alleviate symptoms of depression in people at high risk.

To answer this question, Wongpakaran and his colleagues focused on the known links between neuroticism, stress and depression. Previous research has shown that greater neuroticism is associated with an increased risk of depression, both directly and indirectly through perceived stress – how people think and feel after stressful life events.

From late 2019 to September 2022, researchers conducted an online survey of 644 adults in Thailand. The survey included standard questionnaires to measure each participant’s levels of perceived stress, neuroticism and depressive symptoms, as well as their observance of the Five Precepts of Buddhism.

Statistical analysis of the survey results showed that observing the Five Precepts to a high degree appeared to dampen the influence of perceived stress on depression.

This shows a Buddha statue
The Five Precepts of Buddhism guide followers not to kill, steal, engage in sexual misconduct, tell malicious lies, or use intoxicants. Image is in public domain

These results suggest that people with high levels of neuroticism and stress may be less likely to develop depressive symptoms if they carefully follow the Five Precepts.

The researchers note that while their study suggests potential benefits for the Five Precepts in the context of depression, it does not confirm a causal relationship.

A large proportion of the participants were women and people who lived alone, and participants’ religious involvement was unknown, although 93.3% said they were Buddhist.

Further research will be needed to determine whether these findings could extend to the general population of Thailand and beyond, as well as non-Buddhists.

The authors add, “Practicing the Five Precepts makes others feel safe because all of these behaviors are harmless, and it potentially provides the stressful practitioner with a buffer against depression.”

About this depression and news from research on religion

Author: Press office
Source: OLP
Contact: Press office – PLOS
Image: Image is in public domain

See also

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Original research: Free access.
“Moderating Role of Observing the Five Precepts of Buddhism on Neuroticism, Perceived Stress, and Depressive Symptoms” by Nahathai Wongpakaran et al. PLOS ONE


Moderating role of observing the five precepts of Buddhism on neuroticism, perceived stress and depressive symptoms


Evidence has shown that the Five Precepts significantly affect the relationship between attachment and resilience; however, it is unclear whether observing the Five Precepts would help reduce depressive symptoms in those at risk. The purpose of this study was to examine the moderating role of the Five Precepts in the mediation pattern relationship between neuroticism, perceived stress, and depression.

Patients and methods

The study used a cross-sectional survey design and data was collected from late 2019 to September 2022 in Thailand. A total of 644 general participants completed questionnaires on the Neuroticism Inventory (NI), the 10-item Perceived Stress Scale (PSS), the Depression subscale, and the Five Precepts subscale of the Inner Strength Based Inventory (SBI-PP). Mediation and moderation analyzes with 5000 priming methods were used.


Among all, 74.2% were women and the mean age was 28.28 years (SD = 10.6). SBI-PP has been shown to have a moderating effect on the relationship between NI, PSS and depressive symptoms. The moderating effect between SBI-PP and PSS was significant, while SBI-PP and NI were not. The five precept moderate mediation index was significant (b = -0.019 (95% CI -0.029, -0.009)). The moderated mediation model increased the percentage of variance explaining depressive symptoms to 47.6%, compared to 32.6% for the mediation alone model.


Observing the Five Precepts offers evidence that it lessens the effect of perceived stress on depression. People with a high level of observance of the Five Precepts are less likely to develop depressive symptoms. The implications as well as possible future research are discussed.

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