How to Deal With Losses in Trading

Discover the factors behind trading losses in Indian stock markets and implement five effective strategies to minimise them.

How to Deal With Losses in Trading

Short Story of a Trader

Let’s start with a small story of John, a trader like you.

Every morning John eagerly logs into his trading account, fueled by the hope of hitting it big in the stock market. He scans the charts, studies the trends, and places his bets with anticipation. But as the day progresses, his excitement turns to anxiety as he watches his positions spiral downward. And, by the time the closing bell rings, John stares at significant losses, feeling defeated and overwhelmed.

John's story is just one example of the emotional rollercoaster that most traders often face. Dealing with losses in trading can be challenging, as it requires navigating through a complex mix of emotions and making tough decisions. Like John, many traders grapple with disappointment, frustration, fear, and self-doubt when their trades go awry.

The question remains, how can traders effectively deal with losses and navigate the emotional turbulence that comes with them? Let's explore some strategies and insights that can help traders cope with failures and emerge stronger from challenging situations.

So let’s dive in!

Types of Losses

First, let’s understand the three types of losses in trading and see the most straightforward and standard practices to deal with them.

  1. Emotional Loss

This loss occurs when traders allow emotions such as fear, greed, or impatience to cloud their judgment, leading to poor decision-making.

How To Deal With Emotional Loss:

  • Practice mindfulness and focus on staying calm and rational during trading.
  • Create a trading plan with predetermined entry and exit points, and stick to it. Don’t let fear and greed get in the way.
  • Take a break from trading and reflect on your emotions and behavior to improve your trading mindset.

2. Financial Loss

This type of loss occurs when traders incur losses due to market volatility or incorrect trading decisions. Financial loss is one of the by-products of poor emotional decisions. Some of the common reasons due to financial losses are overtrading, revenge trading, trading without a proper setup, lack of risk management, and more.

How To Deal With Financial Loss:

  • Implement stop-loss orders to limit your losses.
  • Conduct technical and fundamental analysis to make informed trading decisions.
  • Avoid overtrading and only invest a portion of your portfolio in high-risk trades.
  • Use risk management techniques such as diversification and portfolio rebalancing.

3. Opportunity Loss

This type of loss occurs when traders miss out on profitable trades due to fear or hesitation. This loss might not seem like a loss, as it does not involve any money. However, missing an opportunity also creates a lot of psychological pressure on traders to extract profits on the next trade.

How to deal with opportunity loss:

  • Learn to recognise and take advantage of market trends.
  • Don't let past losses impact future trading decisions.
  • Stay up-to-date with the latest market news and developments to identify potential opportunities.

How to Prevent Massive Drawdowns

Preventing massive drawdowns in trading is crucial for protecting your portfolio and avoiding significant losses. These 5 strategies can save your portfolio from huge losses.

  • Use Stop-Loss Orders

A stop-loss order is an order placed with your broker to sell a security if it reaches a specific price. This can help limit potential losses by automatically exiting the trade if the market moves against you. Setting stop-loss orders at appropriate levels is essential based on your risk tolerance and trading strategy. An ideal risk per trade should be at most 0.5% to 2% of your entire capital; hence adjust your position and the stop loss based on that.

  • Conduct Technical and Fundamental Analysis

Technical analysis involves studying charts and using indicators to identify trends and potential risks. Fundamental analysis consists of analysing economic and financial data to assess the value of an investment. However, by combining both types of research, traders can make informed trading decisions and minimise potential losses.

  • Avoid Overtrading

Overtrading is when traders make too many trades, often driven by emotions or impulsive decisions. This can be the reason which leads to unnecessary risks and potential losses. Going back to John’s story, his massive loss at the end of the day resulted from continuous buying and selling activity without any setup or plan. Hence, It is essential to stick to your trading plan and only trade when there is a clear opportunity.

  • Have a Defined Risk to Reward Ratio

A risk-to-reward ratio is the potential profit of a trade compared to the possible loss. It is crucial to have a defined ratio and ensure that potential rewards are higher than potential losses to minimise the impact of losses on your portfolio. Look for trades where you can gain a minimum of Rs 2 against the potential risk of Rs 1 (Risk Reward Ratio of 1:2) In this way, even if you take a couple of losses, your profits will cover them and leave you with more.

  • Use Risk Management Techniques

Diversification and portfolio rebalancing are effective risk management techniques that can help minimise potential losses. This can be achieved by diversifying your portfolio and spreading your investments across different asset classes; you can reduce your exposure to any particular investment or asset.

Bright Side to Losses in Trading

Even if you incur some trading losses, there is a silver lining to it. In India, tax benefits are associated with losses incurred in trading that can help reduce your overall tax liability. As per the Income Tax Act of India, trading losses can be utilised for tax benefits in certain situations. Here are some general guidelines:

  • Carry Forward and Set Off Against Future Profits

If a trader has incurred trading losses, they can also offset such losses against gains made from the sale of capital assets, such as stocks, real estate, or other investments. This can reduce the capital gains tax liability by offsetting the losses against the gains made on capital assets. Trading losses can be carried forward for eight consecutive financial years immediately following the year the loss was incurred. This allows traders to offset their losses against future profits and reduce tax liability in subsequent years.

  • Speculative And Non-Speculative Losses Treated Separately

In India, trading losses are classified as speculative and non-speculative losses. Speculative losses can only be set off against speculative gains, while non-speculative losses can be set off against both speculative and non-speculative gains. This allows traders to utilise their speculative and non-speculative losses separately for tax benefits.

These tax benefits not only provide relief to traders but also serve as a motivating factor to keep pushing forward in their trading endeavours in India.


  • Types of Losses: Traders face emotional, financial, and opportunity losses in trading.
  • Coping Strategies: To deal with emotional losses, practice mindfulness, create a trading plan, and take breaks to reflect on emotions. For financial losses, implement stop-loss orders, conduct a thorough analysis, avoid overtrading, and use risk management techniques. To address opportunity losses, learn to recognise market trends, stay informed, and avoid letting past losses impact future decisions.
  • Preventing Massive Drawdowns: Protecting your portfolio and minimising losses requires using stop-loss orders, conducting technical and fundamental analysis, avoiding overtrading, and having a defined risk-to-reward ratio. Diversification and portfolio rebalancing can also help manage risk.
  • Tax Benefits: In India, traders can carry forward losses for eight consecutive financial years and offset them against future profits. Speculative and non-speculative losses are treated separately, allowing for tax benefits against relevant gains.

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