Jump to content

Meditation Retreats, Drugs, And Depression


cloud96

Recommended Posts

Hi all,

I'm considering a 10 day meditation retreat (or possibly 21-26 day) in the near future. I'm on a low dose of antidepressants for social anxiety and mild depression. Although the dose is low, it's the kind that ought to be tapered when stopping, and even then I probably will still not feel too great about stopping, but not unbearable.

The question: One of the many reasons to do this retreat is to see if it might help with my mental state in terms of social anxiety and depression. In terms of potential benefit, do you think it would be better to stay on the meds and go through the retreat, or to get off them and go through the retreat?

If I stay on them, my concern is that my mood and state of mind will in some way be chemically controlled, and I may not see full benefit. I hope that makes sense. On the other hand, maybe it will help me to achieve benefits, but then it feels a bit like cheating in that I haven't actually developed my mind and had the benefit as a natural result of that development, but instead had the benefit with the assistance of the drug.

What do you think? I'm also taking some medication for back pain. I understand the feeling suffering thing is part of the deal. Should I then stop taking those meds as well? There is aslight shift in mental state, would this classify as "intoxicating substance "?

Cheers

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Many retreat centres will ask you if you are on any such medications before you start. What they will do when you tell them I'm not sure, they may advise you to go cold turkey, they may advise you to keep up the meds and hopefully they'll keep an eye on you during the retreat.

I think doing your first retreat cold turkey might be asking for trouble, you are probably better off doing your first one with meds and try the next one without.

You are best to talk to them about this before signing up, see their response and gauge whether they have you interests at heart, you are probably better to go to a centre run by westerners as they are more likely to understand your situation. If you feel confortable then follow their advice.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Just a bit of a clarification if I may. I'm not asking if I should do it or not based on my condition, which is fairly minor in any case. I'm asking if I would benefit more by continuing on the low dose of meds or to get off the meds entirely. I am going to do the retreat. Has anyone had experience with this? I've got off them before with no major issues like suicide or the like, just felt down and not good talking to people, and not very productive.

By the way, as far as Western medicine is concerned, you could say I am 'cured'. The long term plan for people on these meds prescribed by many doctors and psychiatrists is to just keep taking the medicine. In other words, the pill is the cure as far as they are concerned.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 3 weeks later...

Getting off these kind of meds shd be discussed with your doctor as this is not without risk

(a general statement since we dont know which meds and doses).

I decided to continue my medication for the retreat and I completed two 10 day retreats with good result for me

and no major troubles /incidents. I also take other drugs for other health concerns, drugs that i cannot do one day without.

I realise I cannot speak for your case just for mine.

Edited by orchis
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hello Cloud

I used to teach meditation, and supported classes for many years before that. We only recommended no meditation to those with schizophrenic conditions. Very dependent on the quality of guidance and oversight however, especially for anyone feeling vulnerable.

If you wish to go on retreat I recommend not stopping modest meds unless you do so for several months clearance before the retreat.

It might be advisable to have an "easy" retreat or just go to classes. 10 day vipassanas where your sleep and eating patterns are greatly disturbed are OK for many but some people go into too much focus and not enough breadth and are happy to finish instead of enjoying real peace. I wish you the latter.

John

ps: Recommend "Feeling Good" and "Three Minute Therapy". Even just reading these books could have considerable benefits. The latter especially is very poorly titled but could be very efficacious for you. Cognitive behaviour therapy and avoidance of "should, ought, must".

Edited by sleepyjohn
Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 3 weeks later...

Well I did the retreat with no meds and no major problems, lasted the full 10 days even. There were a couple of points where I could pissed off about some fairly petty things but learned that this was fairly common among many. Now I'm still off em and feeling good. The one thing was though, that there were a few points where my mind just couldn't focus. I was so restless and my mind just wouldn't sit still even after an hour. Other times I was so peaceful and calm. I felt like if I was on the meds I could have continued this feeling and made more 'progress' so to speak. But oh well, practice makes perfect.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Congratulations on completing the 10 days.

The one thing was though, that there were a few points where my mind just couldn't focus. I was so restless and my mind just wouldn't sit still even after an hour. Other times I was so peaceful and calm. I felt like if I was on the meds I could have continued this feeling and made more 'progress' so to speak.

It sounds to me like you had a typical overall experience. In intensive practice I think most people struggle a lot with restlessness, torpor's mirror twin among the classic 'hindrances.' :o My (unmedicated) mind certainly does. All manner of existential angst and petty anger and sorrow can emerge during a retreat.

Some people might claim that medication could 'interfere' with meditation, and maybe they're right. One could just as easily claim that, whether you're on meds or not, whatever mental stuff comes up is grist for the meditation mill so in the end maybe it makes no difference at all. Interesting issue though.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Well I did the retreat with no meds and no major problems, lasted the full 10 days even. There were a couple of points where I could pissed off about some fairly petty things but learned that this was fairly common among many. Now I'm still off em and feeling good. The one thing was though, that there were a few points where my mind just couldn't focus. I was so restless and my mind just wouldn't sit still even after an hour. Other times I was so peaceful and calm. I felt like if I was on the meds I could have continued this feeling and made more 'progress' so to speak. But oh well, practice makes perfect.

hi cloud96, if it is any consolation, I am not depressed and I have already attended 2 meditation retreats, but my mind still jumps around like a monkey. I Think that the more you meditate (esp initially) you become more aware of this and the harder the monkey seems to jump around... but it takes time to quiet it down... keep plugging at it!!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Ive got bad bi-polar mood disorder and although Buddhism says not to take anything that alters your natural state of mind I like to think (and I hope im correct), that this refers to intoxicants, alchohol and illicit drugs. Otherwise, im in trouble. Without my medication im a danger to my self in more than one way, I suffer really high moods, crippling lows and more worrying mixed states where im in a manic state with all the symptoms of depression, the anger etc. I dont think buddhism realises that you live in a real world (so to speak) and and need to function on a normal level with help of medication if needed. Its like saying your backs knackered but your not allowed pain killers because they alter your perception of the reality of your bodys restrictions, mental afflictions are the same. So I wouldnt worry about being made to stop your meds, the monks will know that depression needs to be treated the same as any physical problems.

I hope this makes sense

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    • No registered users viewing this page.




×
×
  • Create New...