Assalamualaikum beautiful souls,
I pray you are all in the best of health and Imaan (Ameen). So today I wanted to talk about depression, its causes, the Islamic view, and how to push yourself out of it. I just want to point out that this will probably be a lot longer than most of my other posts.
Disclaimer: I am not an expert, this is just my personal experiences and research and if you are feeling very depressed and/or suicidal seriously speak to your GP, they will be able to offer you the correct support.
At some point during our lives we experience some form of depression, some suffer worse than others but we all go through it, even children suffer from depression. For each individual person the trigger is different but we can narrow the categories down.
If we look at depression statistics on Muslim Matters as follows we find that depression significantly affects the Muslim community and is often neglected:
 Up to 95% of Imams in America said they spend significant time each week providing informal mental health counselling to their congregation… despite having little formal training to do so.
 Muslim women in UAE are 4 times more likely to get depression than Muslim men… and less likely to get help
 Up to 50% of Arab-Americans shows signs of clinical depression
Every 40 seconds, around 20 people attempt suicide. At least one of them will succeed
 Depression is the leading cause of disability in the world
 More than 50% of depression worldwide is untreated
 In one study of the UK Pakistani community, less than half said that they would be willing to socialise with someone who suffered with a mental health disease
How does depression start?
First it is good to understand what depression actually is. Don’t get confused that “feeling down” is part of depression because it is part of life, we all have ups and downs. It’s when the down feeling start making you feel like you are worthless, when you are feeling hopelessness and despair and they start taking a toll on you and taking over your life. You find it difficult and overwhelming to get through the day and find it hard to enjoy your days like you used to, all of this makes it hard for you to function. Most people experience feeling like “Living in a black hole” and having negative thoughts whilst others feel lifeless and empty, others feel angry and restless.
The difference between depression and sadness is that it affects your life, takes over your days, it interferes with all your daily activity – eating, sleeping, working, studying and most importantly enjoying your life and the little things. I know it feels like there is no way out a lot of the time but you can get through this and your are not helpless or hopeless, it’s just how you are feeling.
Symptoms of depression
Some of the symptoms of depression, there are more (the more you have, the more chances there are of you being depressed and how bad your depression really is):
- Feelings of helplessness
- Feelings of hopelessness
- Loss of interest in daily activities
- Appetite or weight changes (can be either eating more or less)
- Sleep changes (can be insomnia or oversleeping)
- Anger or irritability (feeling agitated, restless or violent)
- Loss of energy
- Reckless behaviour
- Concentration problems
- Unexplained pains or aches
It is different for everyone as I said before and the triggers are different for everyone.
[Remember I am not an expert, this is just my personal experiences and research and if you are feeling very depressed and/or suicidal seriously speak to your GP, they will be able to offer you the correct support. (I know I said this at the beginning but just wanted to bring it again because I have mentioned the symptoms).]
What triggers and/or contributes to depression?
Some of the triggers/contributing factors can be (and again these are just some) and it’s different for everyone:
- Lack of social support
- Recent stressful life experiences
- Relationship problems
- Financial strain
- Early childhood trauma or abuse
- Alcohol or drug abuse
- Unemployment or underemployment
- Health problems or chronic pain
[And again I am not an expert.]
How to overcome depression
What can you do to come out of depression, well first and foremost you need to make a stand against it, you need to say to yourself we’re done feeling sorry for ourselves and we’re are going to get back to being happy!
Speak to other people especially people you know have been through depression and they will be able to give you tips and share experiences to help you get back to being you (if you find it hard to speak to someone write it down and understand why you are feeling sad and write down things that make you happy and do them).
Get up and get moving, don’t sit in bed and don’t lock yourself up and away from people. Go out, get some fresh air and speak to people.
Get into a eating routine and eat healthy meals which will lift your mood – don’t neglect your meals.
Do things that you used to enjoy, old hobbies or new ones, it will help you to start feeling good about yourself again.
And if none of them work try therapy, speak to your local GP or find a place you can go for therapy.
[Note: These are just some of the things I try to do which eventually leave me feeling better but it’s always a working progress and having to be consistent.]
Islamic perspective on depression
A lot of people say “depression isn’t part of Islam” that’s not true, where does it say specifically depression isn’t part of Islam? Certain types of depression are actually a medical condition so we can’t say that an illness is not part of Islam. When a person is sick their sins are being wiped away and their status is being elevated so don’t mock a ill person.
As a Muslim, the feeling of being helpless, not in control and feeling like your life is not going as you want it to is perfectly normal. We believe Allah is the one who is in control of everything which includes your life “He is closer to you than your jugular vein” [50:16] so embrace the feeling of not being in control and remember “Allah does not burden a soul with more than he can bear.” [2:286] and he knows what’s best for you. It’s a bad day not a bad life, “Verily, with every hardship comes ease!” [94:6].
Mostly depression occurs because of external situations and how we allow it to affect us internally. So, rather than sitting and sulking to ourselves maybe it’s a good time to turn to the one who knows all our internal and external affairs? Pray to him and talk to him even though he knows everything just talk to him and you will feel comforted knowing someone has heard you .
“Tell God that you know He is in control. Cry to him. We are taught that by turning to God, we restore ourselves like a dying plant becomes green with water. As an experiment, do this on blind faith and see if it works, say, “All admiration belongs to you, if good comes to me its from you, and if some trouble comes to me its from you, I submit to you, and this situation to you.” Say this even if you do not believe in God, and see how you feel in the inside.” (I took this from fiqh.org).
You have the choice to change the way you feel so don’t say it’s Qadr (fate), it was already destined for me to be depressed. It is not, we have been given free will alongside fate. Fate determines the major events of our life (like birth, death, if and when you will get married, if and when you will have children, accidents, major life turns) but our choices lead up to these events and our free will allows us to decide how we will respond to these situations. And if you’re scared or worried of what your future has in store for you, make dua because dua is the only thing that can change your fate!
Finally (because I don’t want to make this extremely long), have faith and believe in yourself, tell yourself you are no longer depressed and believe you are not depressed. Keep thinking positively and believe in yourself and have faith in Allah.
Some websites you can read up for more information
Talking about mental health in a muslim community – (This website also has a lot of people’s experiences dealing with depression)
Some Quotes to keep us going
I have made them into images so you can put them as your background on your phone when you are feeling down, to lift you up and give you a boost.
“Seek the life to come by means of what God granted you, but do not neglect your rightful share in this world. Do good to others as God has done good to you. Do not seek to spread corruption in the land, for God does not love those who do this”
– (Quran, 28:77)
Cherish your tears and their reasons; they will be the light of your smile, your inner peace and reconciliation
– Tariq Ramadan
Have no fear for surely Allah is with us
– Qur’an 9:40
If you cry about yourself, if you are not happy with yourself, it means He is still close to you.
– Tariq Ramadan
One who does not suffer from sorrow should fear that he could not be from the people of Jannah because Allah says about the believers when they enter Jannah: “Praise to Allah, who has removed from us sorrow. Indeed, our lord is Forgiving and Appreciative.” [35:34]
– Ibrahim at-Taymee
It isn’t a coincidence that prayer was commanded right after the year of sadness. The prayer was the greatest comfort.
– Yasmin Mogahed
Indeed that is to come will be better for you than what has gone by.
– Qur’an 93:4
[It will get better]
It is not true that if we had true faith we would not be sad. Prophets and righteous people experienced a great deal of sadness. The Quran is full of stories in which the central theme is sadness. Sadness is a reality of life. The Quran is not there to eliminate sadness, but to navigate it. Sadness is one of the tests of life, just as happiness, and anger are tests.
– Nouman Ali Khan
Sadness is the heart telling you to find Allah. Depression is you not listening to your heart. Comfort is remembering Allah is always there.
– Yahya Adel Ibrahim
This place is a dream. Only a sleeper considers it real. Then death comes like dawn, and you wake up laughing at what you thought was your grief.
– Jalal ad-Deen Rumi
But listen to me. For one moment quit being so sad. Hear blessings dropping their blossoms all around you.
– Jalal ad-Deen Rumi
The clouds must weep before the meadow smiles.
– Jalal ad-Deen Rumi
What if your blessings come through raindrops, what if your healing comes through tears, what if 1000 sleepless nights are what it takes to know you are near?
– Yasmin Mogahed
The heart is saddened, the eyes shed tears, but we only say that which pleases our lord.
– Sahih al-Bukhari 1303
And if you do ever need to speak to someone, don’t hesitate to contact me, I’m more than willing to help you and/or just speak to you. You can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Remember it’s okay to have down days it’s just how we respond to those situations and how we move on from there. I hope any of you who read this found some comfort and benefited. I pray Allah always keeps you happy and smiling and helps you get through all life situations, Ameen.