To all those suffering from sadness or depression, know that it isn’t your fault. It isn’t because you’re weak. It isn’t because you’re just not grateful enough. It isn’t because you’re just not religious enough. It isn’t because you don’t have enough faith. It isn’t because God is angry with you. To all the well-meaning people who tell you this, just smile. And know deep in your heart that the tests of God come in different forms to different people. And know that, by the help of God, every test can become a tool to get closer to Him. And that, verily, with hardship come ease–and like all things of this world–this too shall pass. Yasmin Mogahed
A sick Muslim after a surgery or getting cancer is showered with flowers and well wishes. A person in the psych ward who was just pulled away from jumping off that bridge only gets called crazy, a bad Muslim, doomed to hell, weak and just plain stupid. Sometimes, their own family shames them to death.
There is a distinction between the everyday depression and dying thoughts versus a diagnosed mental illness, such as depression. Clinical mental illnesses have symptoms of suicidal thoughts and attempts. Depression is much more than grief and sadness.
“It’s officially diagnosed by the DSM-IV as depressed mood systems lasting most of the day for a period of at least two weeks.” (Source: What is Bipolar Disorder?, Take Charge of Bipolar Disorder: A 4-Step Plan for you and Your Loved Ones to Manage the Illness and Create Lasting Stability).
Dr. Abdullah al-Khater (d. 1989), professor at the Faculty of Medicine at the University of King Faisal, says,
A depressed person becomes less productive, concentrates less and starts to develop signs of forgetfulness. He may consider this life worthless and may even regard himself insignificant and worthless. He may wish for death and contemplate suicide. (Source: Grief and Depression: from an Islamic Perspective).
Depression with an organic, hereditary cause or chemical imbalance needs to be treated with many tools. When left untreated, it can lead to suicidal thoughts and attempts. Therefore, it’s crucial to treat depression right away. A simple google search can show you the symptoms of this disorder so I want to focus on a preliminary recovery list:
Therapy such as psychotherapy or cognitive behavioral therapy
Good sleep hygiene
Keeping up with physical hygiene
Active and meaningful social relationships
Support groups or blog
Giving back to your community
For situational depression (caused by trauma, loss and death), Dr. Abdullah Al-Khatir gives eight remedies in his book “Grief and Depression: From an Islamic Perspective.” The above remedies can also be used for the everyday woes except the medication. Dr. Al-Khatir gives the following eight solutions are basically:
Using the Islamic creed
Doing righteous deeds
Offering salah and reciting prayers
Contemplating the worst cases
Having good opinions
Living with a realistic – not idealistic – point of view
Behaving well towards other and yourself
Read more in this series:
What Every Muslim Ought to Know About Suicide – Part III (coming soon)
For more help with depression management, get my eBook “Divine Depression: How to Manage Depression With Islam” on Amazon Kindle. Click here!