How do Jewish teachings relate to beliefs about depression in the strictly orthodox Jewish community?
Abstract: The aim of this study was to explore whether and, if so, how Jewish teachings influence strictly orthodox Jewish beliefs about depression. The rabbinic literature was searched for Jewish teachings relevant to depression. Ten consenting strictly orthodox Jews were purposively selected and interviewed using a semi-structured interview schedule focussing on their beliefs about causes of and treatments for depression. Thematic analysis was used to analyse transcribed interviews and explore relationships between community beliefs and the Jewish teachings identified in the review. The key themes in both the rabbinic literature and the community included the overriding importance in Judaism of preserving life, using appropriate, acceptable means to do so, and obligations to help others. Contrasts between rabbinic teachings and community beliefs included community concerns about stigma, generally lacking in the rabbinic literature, and greater rabbinic emphasis on spiritual exertion in dealing with depression. Findings could prove useful to those managing depressed, orthodox Jews.