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It’s my understanding that there’s two main categories of non-life threatening illnesses: מיחוש בעלמא, “average pain,” and נפל למשכב, one who is so sick that he’s unable to get out of bed. The former category is unable to take medication on Shabbos; the latter is, as well as certain other leniencies on Rabbinic prohibitions (see SA OC 328 for details).

Which category does someone with clinical depression fall into? People with clinical depression tend to constantly feel sad and have lack of interest and motivation to do anything. Does that qualify them as a נפל למשכב to be allowed to take an antidepressant on Shabbos, or are they still considered to have just a מיחוש בעלמא and it would be prohibited?

I’m specifically talking about someone diagnosed by a professional as having clinical depression, has been prescribed an antidepressant, and is not suicidal.

EDIT: It has been brought to my attention that it’s a dispute amongst the Poskim whether one who takes medicine regularly may continue to do so on Shabbos. It would therefore seem that my question only applies according to Rav Moshe, cited there from Igros Moshe OC 3:53, who holds that one may not continue a regular dosage on Shabbos.

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    All Rabanim I know say he is OBLIGATED to take it on shabbat. – kouty Jun 16 at 15:41
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    @kouty Even without פיקוח נפש? – DonielF Jun 16 at 15:51
  • The outcome is influenced by skipping one dose weekly. Additionally some AD have sedative effect needed and if they skip them patient will feel bad – kouty Jun 16 at 16:28
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    i think that this question might be subjective as each specific case require the medical history of the person to be analysed by the Rov to determine how to proceed and cannot possibly be incoorperated into a general answer – user15464 Jun 16 at 20:09
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As your EDIT points out, many poskim rule that one who takes medicine daily may continue to do so on Shabbos, while R' Moshe and others disagree.

R' Howard Jachter has an article titled "Taking Medicine on Shabbos part II" where he neatly spells out this machlokes:

"Taking Medicine Over a Period of Time"

Shemirat Shabbat Kehilchata (34:note 76) cites Rav Shlomo Kluger and the Chazon Ish who permit taking medicine on Shabbat if it is part of a routine that was established before Shabbat. Rabbi Yosef Adler cites Rav Yosef Dov Soloveitchik who reported that Rav Chaim Soloveitchik adopts the same approach. For example, if someone is taking antibiotics for ten days, he may take the antibiotics on Shabbat as well.

Rav Moshe Feinstein (Teshuvot Igrot Moshe Orach Chaim 3:53), Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach (cited in Shemirat Shabbat Kehilchata 34:note 76), and Rav Eliezer Waldenberg (Teshuvot Tzitz Eliezer 8:15:15:15) express serious reservations about this lenient approach. One should ask his Rav for guidance on this question.


In light of the poskim who say one may continue to take medicine daily, your EDIT also qualifies that your question now is only in regard to Rav Moshe's shita.

I don't know what that would be, but a Google search provided some online resources who did explicitly rule on the matter. I can't vouch for their trustworthiness/ whether one can rely on them and as always should CYLOR.


din.org.il was posed this question (Hebrew) "Taking antidepressants on the Sabbath" and responded:

בלי שום ספק זה מותר בהחלט!
Without a doubt this is definitely allowed!

hidabroot.org "Taking an [SSRI] pill on Shabbos"

יש להקפיד לקחת בכל יום ויום כפי ההוראות של הרופא כולל בשבת
Be sure to take each and every day as the doctor's instructions including on Saturday.

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    Are you sure dinonline and hidabroot are going according to Rav Moshe, or perhaps they’re paskening that way because one can rely on the Chazon Ish? – DonielF Jun 17 at 2:45
  • @DonielF could be the latter- didn't suggest they were going acc to R' Moshe, was just quoting them stam – alicht Jun 17 at 8:18
  • The OP assumed there was no risk of suicide. Probably your two cited sources do not make such an assumption. – Double AA Jun 17 at 18:53

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