Are you depressed? Trust me you are not mad nor are you alone! Shocked?
Muslim societies for years have seen depression as a person being crazy, this has led to thousands of Muslims suffering from the illness because they refuse to seek help out of embarrassment that they will be seen as being crazy.
What is Depression?
It is an actual illness impacting the brain. It is not imaginary, it is not all in your head and no you are not just feeling down (although this can be a milder form of depression).
Depression is an actual illness caused by changes in brain chemistry. Research shows that there are other factors that can also affect the onset of depression, including certain medical conditions, stress, grief or difficult life circumstances. These can work alone or along with the changes in brain chemistry causing many symptoms and causing the patient to have a very difficult life.
Signs of Depression to be aware of:
There are many signs that you need to be aware of, however following are worth noting to help you spot it in a loved one.
- Angry outbursts
- Loss of interest in friends, family and favourite activities, including sex
- Reacting to help
- Trouble concentrating
- Trouble making decisions
- Trouble remembering
- Thoughts of harming yourself
- Delusions and/or hallucinations can also occur in cases of severe depression
- Thoughts of hurting others
- Disliking yourself
- Withdrawing from people
- Substance abuse
- Missing work, school or other commitments
- Attempts to harm yourself
- Becoming rude and aggressive
- Tiredness or lack of energy
- Unexplained aches and pains
- Changes in appetite
- Weight loss
- Weight gain
- Changes in sleep – sleeping too little or too much
- Sexual problems
Islam’s stance on Depression
There are 2 types of depression:
Mild depression (not to be mistaken with severe depression!)
We all go through life’s ups and downs. This is a normal part of being in this world, we were not put into this life to swim through it without any tensions!
Trouble is inevitable in this life; this is how Allah has decreed it and He has made it a place of trials and tests, and a bridge to the hereafter. Even the best of His creation, the Prophets, were never free of troubles.
Everyone goes through grief and sorrow, because of a difficult time we may be facing, because of the calamities facing loved ones or even Muslims around the world.
We can be full of despair. These feelings can begin to stop us from fulfilling our rights and obligations to others and we start to neglect the blessings of Allah that He has bestowed upon us and we fail to thank Allah (swt) and we fall deeper into the pit. It no longer remains a sadness that is natural but a case of weakness and sickness that then needs to be treated.
As Muslims we need to be patient and trust in Allah. Shaykh al-Islam Ibn Taymiyah (may Allah have mercy on him) said:
“Many people, when they see evil or when the Muslim ummah goes through a lot of trouble, panic, lose hope and start complaining as people who are beset by calamities do. But this is forbidden; rather what is enjoined is to be patient, to put one’s trust in Allah, to be steadfast in adhering to the religion of Islam and to believe that Allah is with those who fear Him and those who do good, and that the best end is for those who fear Him; whatever befalls him is because of his sins, so he should be patient, for the promise of Allah is true; he should seek forgiveness for his sins and glorify and praise his Lord morning and evening.”
However, this is a basic state of depression, which if controlled can be cured, life’s small miseries should not overtake us and make us forget how many blessings we are given.
It is human nature to remember everything that is going wrong rather than the things that have gone right. Subhanallah how beautiful and better would life be if when we are feeling down we thought of the positive things instead of the negative?
A few years back I met a western lady at the hospital when tending to my mother, and I remember talking to her, she had suffered from a stroke and lost the use of her right side. She could no longer speak properly, and would struggle with her conversations and was at the last stages of her life, but she was happy. She was smiling and she was laughing and looking forward to Christmas.
I asked her how could she be happy in such a situation? Her answer to me? “Look around me, I have people that have no one, they are lying there and no one to ask them how they are, when I reflect and look at myself, my husband is with me every day, my children come to visit me, my grand-children come to visit me, I lived a full life, yes I am sad I will be going, but do I have the right to be ungrateful for the beautiful life I have already lived? Should I really spend my last days wishing I was not unwell when I can enjoy them with my family?”
And I thought, Mashallah, she is a non-Muslim and she has such a beautiful attitude to life, whereas we as Muslims have so many blessings on us, yet we fail to count them when we are befallen by one problem! We have been offered Jannah as Muslims, we have been blessed with His guidance and yet we can be the ones that forget all of this and allow depression to overtake us.
This is not the same as mild depression. This is serious and requires medical attention. You should look out for the symptoms listed earlier.
In severe depression a person experiences loneliness, intense grief and some or all of the following thoughts and feelings: “You are worthless. The world would be better without you. You are a burden to your family. You are not smart enough. You are not religious enough. You are not beautiful/ handsome enough. You will never reach your goals. You are nothing and you are all alone.” This loneliness consumes the individual, completely paralysing them. At this point it has become a sickness and should be treated and not left alone. This condition has become outside the control of the person but can be controlled via a specialist.
The patient themselves should be trying to attempt to help themselves as well by trying to keep busy with useful activities, such as reading Qur’an and other books, and engaging in hobbies and most importantly exercise which is a great energy booster!
Natural Islamic remedies for Depression
One of the prescriptions that was often used in the past is talbeenah.
It was narrated from Ayesha (may Allaah be pleased with her) that she would order that talbeenah be made for the sick and the one who was mourning a death, and she used to say: I heard the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) say: “Talbeenah soothes the heart of the sick and takes away some of the grief.” (Narrated by al-Bukhaari, 5365; Muslim, 2216).
It is clear from these two hadeeths that talbeenah is used to treat the sick and to reduce the grief of one who is grieving, soothing his heart and giving him energy.
Talbeenah is a broth made from barley flour with its bran, to which a cup of water is added, and it is heated on a low fire for five minutes, then a cup of milk and a spoonful of honey is added and can help to ease signs of mild depression.
In Islam Q & A the following is written:
There is no doubt that barley has many benefits, some of which have been discovered in modern studies, such as: lowering cholesterol, treating the heart, treating depression, treating high blood sugar and high blood pressure, softening the stools and soothing the colon. Studies have also demonstrated the importance of barley in reducing the incidence of colon cancer.
Dr. Sahba’ Bunduq said – after noting the benefits mentioned above and discussing them in detail:
In this sense, talbeenah is a protection against diseases of the heart and circulatory system, as it protects the arteries from arteriosclerosis – especially the major arteries of the heart. It also protects against angina, reduction of blood supply and cardiac infarction.
Try to get 8 hours of sleep every night, go to sleep and wake up at the same time every day, this can help in the long term. In a Harvard study funded by National Institute of Mental Health it was found that 87 percent of depression patients who resolved their insomnia had major improvements to their depression, with symptoms disappearing after eight weeks whether the person took an antidepressant or a placebo pill. The study’s lead author told the New York Times:
“The way this story is unfolding, I think we need to start augmenting standard depression treatment with therapy focused on insomnia.”
A good diet can help with easing depression. Try incorporating fish oil that is rich in omega 3 fatty acids, healthy fat such as coconut oil, flaxseed oil and eggs in your diet.
Hydrotherapy (a more scientific term for cold showers) is a simple at home remedy which can provide substantial benefit with minimal effort. Hydrotherapy is the application of cold water to the body surface to help it heal and feel better.
Dr Peter Bongiorno, a specialist in science based natural medicine, says in the leading online website psychology today:
For the treatment of depression, it is suggested that cold exposure therapies may be the best choice. Since the density of cold receptors (the parts of our body that can sense cold) in the skin is thought to be three to ten times higher than that of warm receptors, the simultaneous firing of all skin based cold receptors from jumping into the cold may result in a positive therapeutic effect. It has also been shown that lowering the temperature of the brain is known to have neuroprotective and therapeutic effects and can relieve inflammation, a known mechanism in depressive illness. In addition, exposure to cold has been shown to activate the sympathetic nervous system, will increase the blood level as well as brain release of norepinephrine–an adrenal hormone that can help depressed people feel more ‘up’ naturally. The water therapy also can help increase production of beta-endorphins–‘feel good’ molecules that give a sense of well-being.
Van Gogh, one of the most influential figures in the history of Western art, went to psychiatrist (check spelling!) for treatment of depression. His prescription wasn’t drugs but two cold baths a day!
Perform extra prayers above and beyond the five daily prayers. You can pray at night before going to bed as well, take your time in sajood, as this can calm your nerves. No one is a better listener then Allah (swt) pray to him for guidance and to ease your worries.
Always remember that no burden is given that is greater than what you can bear, and there is a reason why you are given it in the first place. It is understandable that this is easier said than done, as at the time it feels like life is crumbling, but keep your faith strong and your problems will In Shah Allah ease.
Try to meditate for about 10 minutes a day – find a quiet place where there are no disturbance, leave your phone in another room and begin to regulate your breathing, attempt to let go of your thoughts. Do not think too hard and if something does pop into your head acknowledge it and let it go. It takes time to get used to doing meditation this way but with practice you will learn to be in peace and to will away your thoughts which can have a beneficial effect on your mood.
Try acupuncture – there are 400 body points in our body, when the needle enters the skin your body responds by releasing endorphins. This makes you feel calm, happy and relaxed and many people say this feeling lasts long after the session is over.
Try these natural home remedies as well:
Basil leaves with yogurt:
- Take 10-12 basil leaves and mix them into the yogurt.
- You can also add sugar to make it tasty.
- Mix this mixture properly.
- Use this remedy to boost the mental functions.
Use and eat fennel seeds to improve and recover from stress and depression.
Almond with Milk:
- Take 5-6 almonds and soak into the water at night.
- Peel off and grind them in the next morning.
- Add this paste into a glass of lukewarm milk, mix it properly.
- Thereafter, add some sugar to make it tasty.
- Now, drink it.
How friends and family can help and support
- Forgive them for the missed calls and broken promises and little changes that begin to make us think they do not care.
- Be empathetic! Understand that in the fog of depression, human beings make bad decisions, say things they wish they hadn’t and do things they never would. They do regret saying it, it even slowly kills them from the inside, but being miserable they cannot share it. They will force their smiles and hide their despair.
- If they are constantly making excuses about not being well, being tired or saying they are coming down with something, keep in contact, let them know you are there for them.
- Tell them they are not alone. Keep texting, keep calling, keep emailing (within reason). Everyone notices a broken leg but no one notices a broken spirit. Don’t be the person that lets days go by while a friend or an acquaintance falls deeper and deeper into his/ her depression.
- If they finally tell you, do not leave them, do not forget them. Don’t let weeks pass by without checking up on them. And when you do reach out, don’t simply say: “It’s going to be okay. Just perk up. Be thankful” instead try to get them out of the house, work out an exercise regime with them so that you work together to achieve something or even go to the cinema!
- Try to get them to see a specialist as this is their best recourse to recovery.
Finally, every light has a tunnel. Every struggle a reward. Please be patient and you will reap the benefits of your patience, I leave you will some duas that you can make to ease your depression and seek help from Allah (swt).
Duas (From Al-Quranclasses.com)
- It was reported that the Prophet (PBUH) used to recite this Dua:
اللّهُـمَّ رَحْمَتَـكَ أَرْجـوفَلا تَكِلـني إِلى نَفْـسي طَـرْفَةَ عَـيْن، وَأَصْلِـحْ لي شَأْنـي كُلَّـه لَا إِلَهَ إِلَّا أنْـت
“O Allah, I hope for Your mercy. Do not leave me to myself even for the blinking of an eye (i.e. a moment). Correct all of my affairs for me. There is none worthy of worship but You.” (Abu Dawud 4/324, Ahmad 5/42. Al-Albani graded it as good in Sahih Abu Dawud 3/959.)
- In al-Saheehayn it was reported from Ibn ‘Abbaas that the Messenger of Allaah (Peace and Blessings of Allaah be upon him) used to say, when he felt distressed or depression and worries:
لا إلَهَ إلاَّ اللَّهُ الْعَظـيمُ الْحَلِـيمْ، لا إلَهَ إلاَّ اللَّهُ رَبُّ العَـرْشِ العَظِيـمِ، لا إلَهَ إلاَّ اللَّهُ رَبُّ السَّمَـوّاتِ ورّبُّ الأَرْضِ ورَبُّ العَرْشِ الكَـريم
“La ilaaha ill-Allaah al-‘Azeem ul-Haleem, Laa ilaaha ill-Allaah Rabb il-‘arsh il-‘azeem, Laa ilaaha ill-Allaah Rabb is-samawaati wa Rabb il-ard wa Rabb il-‘arsh il-kareem”
“There is no god except Allaah, the All-Mighty, the Forbearing; there is no god except Allaah, the Lord of the Mighty Throne; there is no god except Allaah, Lord of the heavens, Lord of the earth and Lord of the noble Throne.” (Al-Bukhari 8/154, Muslim 4/2092, )
- It was reported from Anas (may Allaah be pleased with him) that the Prophet (Peace and Blessings of Allaah be upon him) used to say, when something upset him:
“Yaa Hayyu yaa Qayyoom, bi Rahmatika astagheeth (O Ever-Living One, O Everlasting One, by Your mercy I seek help).”
- It was reported that Asmaa’ bint ‘Umays (may Allaah be pleased with her) said: The Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said to me:
“Shall I not teach you some words to say when you feel distressed, Depression and Worries ?
اللهُ اللهُ رَبِّ لا أُشْـرِكُ بِهِ شَيْـئاً
‘Allaah, Allaah, Rabbee laa ushriku bihi shay’an’
Allaah, Allaah, my Lord, I do not associate anything with Him (Abu Dawud 2/87. See also Al-Albani, Sahih Ibn Majah 2/335.)
It was reported from ‘Abd-Allaah ibn Mas’ood that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “No person suffers any anxiety or grief, and says:
للّهُـمَّ إِنِّي عَبْـدُكَ ابْنُ عَبْـدِكَ ابْنُ أَمَتِـكَ نَاصِيَتِي بِيَـدِكَ، مَاضٍ فِيَّ حُكْمُكَ، عَدْلٌ فِيَّ قَضَاؤكَ أَسْأَلُـكَ بِكُلِّ اسْمٍ هُوَ لَكَ سَمَّـيْتَ بِهِ نَفْسَكَ أِوْ أَنْزَلْتَـهُ فِي كِتَابِكَ، أَوْ عَلَّمْـتَهُ أَحَداً مِنْ خَلْقِـكَ أَوِ اسْتَـأْثَرْتَ بِهِ فِي عِلْمِ الغَيْـبِ عِنْـدَكَ أَنْ تَجْـعَلَ القُرْآنَ رَبِيـعَ قَلْبِـي، وَنورَ صَـدْرِي وجَلَاءَ حُـزْنِي وذَهَابَ هَمِّـي
‘Allaahumma innee ‘abduka wa ibn ‘abdika wa ibn amatika, naasiyati bi yadika, maadin fiyya hukmuka, ‘adlun fiyya qadaa’uka, as’aluka bi kulli ismin huwa laka sammayta bihi nafsaka aw anzaltahu fi kitaabika aw ‘allamtahu ahadan min khalqika aw ista’tharta bihi fi ‘ilm il-ghaybi ‘andak an taj’ala al-Qur’aana rabee’ qalbi wa noor sadri wa jalaa’a huzni wa dhahaaba hammi’
“O Allaah, I am Your slave, son of Your slave, son of Your female slave, my forelock is in Your hand, Your command over me is forever executed and Your decree over me is just. I ask You by every Name belonging to You which You named Yourself with, or revealed in Your Book, or You taught to any of Your creation, or You have preserved in the knowledge of the unseen with You, that You make the Qur’aan the life of my heart and the light of my breast, and a departure for my sorrow and a release for my anxiety”.