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Treating Depression and Keeping Torah

Treating Depression and Keeping Torah

Question:
I worked fifteen years in the field of healing mental disorders anxiety and depression. My clients were mostly chareidi bochurim and avrechim in Israel and all over the world. My treatments were effective.
Is depression considered a disease according to Torah. Daf 63 Gittin a man who jumps from the roof is considered Healthy [Bori]. Can I tell my clients who are suffering, you don’t have to be a Tzaddik? For you it is more important to be happy than to worry about the halacha.. HaShem only asks you to be happy.

Answer:

Depression is certainly considered an illness according to Torah standards. Depending on the severity of the depression or other mental illness it may sometimes even be considered an issue of Pikuach Nefesh, a life threatening illness.

While you could tell them they need not be great Tzaddikim, I would not tell them “not to worry about halacha”. In general I think they need to be guided to a place where they understand that being happy is not a contradiction to keeping halacha, and that halacha is not something to “worry about”.  They certainly should be taught to understand differentiating between the halacha and stringencies.

In a case of need for their healing or well being there are times when we will put aside shmiras hamitzvos, depending on the severity and need in each particular situation. This should be done on a case by case basis in consultation with a Rav familiar with the particular circumstances involved.

 

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