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What is the Jewish view on anti depression (legal!) medication?

by Mrs. Sara Esther Crispe

  

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The Torah is not opposed to the use of legal medication when necessary in treating certain emotional conditions; however, it is certainly not considered the ideal choice.1 There are various Torah approaches to healing mental ailments such as depression, with the highest level being when one is able to fix his or her spiritual condition first, and then work on his or her emotional or psychological condition. There is the idea that a small hole in the soul creates a big hole in the body. This teaches us that a spiritual ailment will result not only in an emotional condition, but often a physical condition will follow as well.

Nonetheless, sometimes a person must use this “bottom-up approach” in which case the body or mind is first healed, and only then can one work on the underlying spiritual condition. There are times when depression is so extreme that only through medication can one temporarily, through chemicals, treat the problem long enough to get to the deeper root and cause of the depression. When someone is removed enough from their own condition to view it as an outsider, then he or she can begin to slowly eliminate the medication and work instead to heal oneself through counseling.

Depression is something that is quite debilitating as it takes away one’s desire to motivate or do anything productive. Actually, in Hebrew, the word for laziness, atzlut, and the word for depressed, atzvut, are related, for when one is lazy it is often the predecessor for depression. When we feel accomplished, however, and we keep ourselves busy, feelings of depression vanish since often its cause is simply feeling that we have nothing to offer the world and nothing to do with our lives.

Footnotes

  • 1. This article is not discussing clinical depression, caused by a neurological chemical imbalance, which can only be dealt with through stabilizing medications. When in doubt, see a mental health professional to determine whether a given depression is clinical or not.

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COMMENTS

Torah sentences to heal depression

Posted by: Anonymous, Sylmar, CA on Jan 26, 2005

How helpful it would be to include a list of various pasukim that can have a healing effect. They can specifically regard healing or can present a healing image.

Editor's Comment

I believe that Mrs. Crispe was referring to different meditations. I would advise studying -- and the contemplating -- chapters 26-34 of Tanya. The Tanya is available online at http://www.chabad.org/library/archive/LibraryArchive2.asp?AID=6239

Depression

Posted by: Rabbi Eliyahu W. Ferrell, Passaic, NJ on Sep 28, 2005

I believe that important data has been left out. The pills are often needed to compensate for chemical issues--which are B'derech Hateva not healed by teshuvah and attitude change. Second of all, the pills may be classified as part-and-parcel of one's work on Middos and not as outside that Avodah. Indeed, if a chemical imbalance is affecting one's Middos, there are aspects of Oness involved.

Depression

Posted by: Rob, Northridge, CA on Jan 16, 2006

I wish there was a way to feel good like I should...I am trying to be a good jewish boy (man)

RELATED CATEGORIES

Miscellaneous » Health Issues » Medical Ethics

Torah
Torah is G–d’s teaching to man. In general terms, we refer to the Five Books of Moses as “The Torah.” But in truth, all Jewish beliefs and laws are part of the Torah.