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Overcoming Depression

I have a good job at a bank. I have good friends, a loving family, and enough money. But I'm depressed! I lost substantial client funds in the currency markets over the last six months. I was always good at this business and since this has occurred, I feel so rotten and sad all the time. Can you help?

The Aish Rabbi Replies:

I understand why you feel this way, despite the fact that these people knew there was a chance they could lose money.

The fact that you feel bad is an indication of your fine character.

One of the ways to emotionally cope with distressing events is to learn a positive message from it.

Perhaps one of the positive things that can be learned from this is how everything really is in the hands of God. Who in truth can guarantee that anyone will make money, being that God runs the world?

The word "Baruch," which means "bless" in Hebrew, is similar to the word "Berech" which means knee. Based on this, our Sages teach that to bring blessing to the world, we must be able to acknowledge that all is God's, and "bend our knees" to Him. Indeed, this is the purpose of prayer, to reinforce the awareness that we are dependent on God and humble ourselves before Him.

So I think you need to work at accepting that this mistake/setback happened, and focus on asking how you can channel this into positive energy to grow and mature.

Beyond this, there could be a number of reasons why you are unhappy. It may be something as simple as diet or something more complicated, such as a chemical imbalance that must be treated with medication.

In general, depression is a function of lack of meaningful activity. If we feel like we have a purpose in life, and are making a contribution, then our self-esteem rises (and we also have less time to be bored). Have you tried a community service project, perhaps helping the less fortunate? This can be a good channel for your energies, and will give you a real sense of value and contribution.

Another common cause of depression is unrealized goals. It could be there is something that you really want to achieve, but have been avoiding for one reason or another. Ask yourself:

What are my goals? Am I achieving them? If not, why not? Are the goals realistic? Are my methods for achieving them realistic?

Try that for starters.

You also need to think about "happiness" in general. Try to manufacture for yourself some "happy pills." By this I mean thinking of two or three things that can instantly make you happy, no matter what the circumstances. It may be the fact that you are Jewish, or that you have a best friend, or that you have eyes to see with. Keep these handy in the back of your mind, to draw upon whenever you're feeling down. The lift that you'll get from thinking about these should be able to pull you out of the doldrums and energize you to move on.

Final advice: Pray that God will help you overcome the problems you are experiencing. He is there and wants to help!

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