I believe that the Buddhist practice can fix many coping mechanisms of individuals suffering from depression, often without making them go into superstition and religious OCD (read how here) . The activities and beliefs in the practice may play a similar role as cognitive behavioral therapy for these individuals.
Cognitive– Changing maladaptive beliefs and replacing them with an empowering life philosophy.
Affective– The emphasis the Buddhist practice has on experiencing true and abundant happiness, the concept of the 10 worlds (life conditions).
Behavioral– Encouraging not only functional and adaptive behavior, but leadership and value creating like as well.
How it can improve one’s coping mechanism:
- Karmic consciousness and Individual agency: Find the latent causes to the (negative) manifest effects in your life which bother you. Face and solve issues in life rather than go into negative coping mechanisms like blaming others for your own losses by realizing your own karma and create new positive causes each day for a brighter future. The mantra “Nam Myoho Renge Kyo” which means I believe in the power of cause and effect is supposed to help actualize that.
- Healing relationships: Praying for the happiness of others, forgiving people, not keeping grudges against them and see the Buddha (virtues) in them.
- Focus on Achieving Happiness: Principles of achieving a high life condition through gratitude and true happiness, chanting, making positive causes in the present and other ways.
- Living in the present: One of the other key beliefs in the practice is to forgive, let go of the past and live fully in the present.
- Personal growth : Emphasis on reaching one’s highest potential or Buddhahood
- Desire Manifestation: The Gohonzon as a wish granting jewel for faith/placebo- gives them power, hope and faith to manifest one’s desires. Chanting daily to manifest desires, and as a result shifting one’s attention to what they want rather than what they don’t want.
- Meaning and purpose: The Boddhisatva identity (being happy and making others happy), harboring Empathy and compassion, emphasis on Kosen Rufu (World peace), environmentalism and social causes.
- Resilience, power and winning: Their focus on victories, experiences and personal transformation.
- Support system: The Gakkai family who you always have to share your problems with, get guidance from and meet up with during dire circumstances.
There is no guarantee that one can overcome their depression by practicing, but they can surely receive many benefits like decreasing the intensity of their depressive episodes, preventing future outbursts etc.