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Defeating Depression and Sadness in Islam

By: S.L.A © 2016

Sadness or depression afflicts every person at some point or another, but how to overcome it?

Causes of Depression

According to Harvard Medical School, they state: “It's often said that depression results from a chemical imbalance, but that figure of speech doesn't capture how complex the disease is. Research suggests that depression doesn't spring from simply having too much or too little of certain brain chemicals. Rather, depression has many possible causes, including faulty mood regulation by the brain, genetic vulnerability, stressful life events, medications, and medical problems. It's believed that several of these forces interact to bring on depression.”[i]

Depression can be caused by a disappointment in our lives, death of a loved one, relationship problems with family or a spouse, financial worries, stress, or even a chemical imbalance in the brain. Majority of people face it due to the issues in their lives, while others have a medical causes of depression, so it is important for a person to know which type or cause it stems from, before you can get the appropriate solution.

If you know the cause of your depression, you can then search for a solution, but you must delve into your thoughts and feelings to determine the deeper cause.

Conflicts between spouses for example, may not be an issue with your spouse at all, but an external problem that affects both, causing conflicts. For example, financial problems may cause tension with a spouse, but if the financial problem were non-existent, they may get along without problems. Therefore it is important to not put the blame on the wrong source. Recognize the problem, and its source. In this example, you may not have a solution to your financial problem, but you can resolve the disharmony between you and your spouse. Talking together and working on goals and solutions, and not blaming one or the other is the first step to tackle this problem. Once you know you are both on the same page with each other, you can then work to resolve the external problem that caused the conflict between you. This applies to basically all problems that one faces, to find the root of the issue, and focus on that.

Don’t Expect Others To Fix Everything For You

People are not perfect, and they will let you down sometimes. This is a fact of life. However, you need to always put your trust in Allah to help you overcome any difficulty. Sometimes people set unrealistic expectations for other people – Be realistic. Don’t put all your eggs in one basket (don’t expect one person to fix everything, you must help yourself first). No one will care more about your problems more than you!

Oftentimes, I have people complain to me that so-and-so didn’t do what they said they would, and it left them angry, or unable to trust them, etc. Accept that not everyone is able to do everything for everyone that they have had intentions to do. I’m sure you have let others down, but didn’t have the intention to. Be compassionate if someone is unable to fulfill your expectations. The quickest way to ruin a friendship or relationship is to hold it against them if they fail to do what you wanted. Give people the benefit of the doubt that maybe they encountered some problem in their own lives, which caused them to focus their attention to their issue instead of yours. Don’t hold a grudge against them.

The people that expect everyone else to fix their problems, are the ones that never get their problems resolved. While there are people that are able to help you, don’t put everything on their shoulders, or you will most surely be left disappointed. When others offer their help, don’t leave it all to them, put your own efforts to help yourself in also. No one wants to help a person that isn’t willing to help themselves. Allah has stated that He will not fix the situation of a person until they fix what is within themselves first….so ponder over that next time you expect the solution to fall out of thin air without any effort from yourself.

The perfect example of this that I’ve encountered from people most, is the issue of not finding a job. When I ask them where they have applied for work, I usually get vague answers like “lots of places, or I’ve tried everywhere”, but when I ask “where?” they usually can’t list anything, and get defensive and say things like “do you think I’m lying?”, to distract you from the reality that they never actually did what they claim to help themselves. Usually the hidden answer is “no one else has found me a job anywhere”.   This is the reality. I’m not saying that all people are lazy and expect a job to fall into their lap, because there are many people that do put a lot of effort in to seeking a job, and still can’t find something. These people have external issues usually beyond their control, and they have to just seek the help of Allah, because they are putting forth the effort, and Allah will help those people over those that don’t even try that just sit at home and complain to everyone else about how they can’t find anything, and put guilt trips on people to give them money instead.

Post-Traumatic Stress (Negative Reminders from the Past)

Remembering traumatic events of the past, or bad habits, or sins you may have committed, are works of the devil (shaitan), to keep you depressed, and isolated, and thinking negatively about Allah. Shaitan will whisper to you to remind you of images or scenes from your past to cause you to emotionally destroy yourself mentally, in hopes you may forget Allah, do more sins by tempting you, or worse - tempting you to harm yourself, and even worse than that - to disbelieve in Allah.

When you face such reminders, try to distract yourself by doing something cheerful and uplifting. Remember Allah, seek refuge in Him, and thank Allah for taking you from those past experiences. Say “Alhamdulillah” for everything – the good and the bad.  Majority of all live lessons we learn are due to troubles we have faced in the past.

You may have experienced an event that was very traumatic, such as abuse, rape, natural disaster, an accident, or other traumatizing events. These major causes for depression should be treated on both a spiritual level, as well as clinical level, with a trained professional psychologist or psychiatrist. Seeing a professional is not an indication of ‘craziness’ like many people think. Depression does not equate to insanity, but those same professionals know how to help you to overcome traumatic events in a healthy mental way, so that you don’t suffer from it for the rest of your life. They will give you coping skills, and methods to process your emotions, how to trust people again, and advice on how to move on with your life quicker. If you leave the thorn in your foot, you will suffer with each step, so be logical and get the appropriate help needed.

Unsure of the Cause of Your Depression?

Onset of depression for no apparent reason can be an indicator of a medical cause. This does not equate to insanity as explained earlier. It just means that your body is out of whack, and may need medical assistance to help restore you back to the natural state of health.

Read more about the vast causes related to depression from Harvard Medical School .

Islamic Healing from Depression

The Prophet (pbuh) said: “Indeed, when Allah created the disease, He created its cure”. (Ahmad)

The best remedy for such disease is in reciting the Qur'an.

Allah Says “And We send down from the Qur'an that which is a healing and a mercy to those who believe (in Islamic Monotheism and act on it), and it increases the Zalimun (polytheists and wrong-doers) nothing but loss.” (Qur’an 17:82)

Get ruqiya done.

Making Dua while in the state of sujud (prostration).

Seek professional counseling to learn how to process your emotions better, and if you have a medical condition, you can help restore your health with medical assistance if needed.

Surround yourself with righteous people, because Allah tells us:

“And keep yourself (O Muhammad ) patiently with those who call on their Lord (i.e. your companions who remember their Lord with glorification, praising in prayers, etc., and other righteous deeds, etc.) morning and afternoon, seeking His Face, and let not your eyes overlook them, desiring the pomp and glitter of the life of the world; and obey not him whose heart We have made heedless of Our Remembrance, one who follows his own lusts and whose affair (deeds) has been lost” (Qur’an 18:28)

Always know that as long as you have faith and trust in the Allah, He always has something better in store for us, has saved us from a disaster or adversity in the past, and He can do it again. Accept the qadr (decree) of Allah, and be humbled with what life throws at you, and this is the sign of true sincere belief in Allah, the Almighty. Do your best and leave the rest to Allah.

We tend to forget that Allah has control over all things, and has the power to change anything. Keeping Allah in your mind, and on your tongue, and remembering Him in your actions, you will never go wrong. When people face a problem, they tend to get angry with Allah, and stop worshipping Him by stopping prayers, and other obligatory ways of worship. They feel that Allah doesn’t listen to them, so they give up. This is not how we should react!

"And if God touches thee with affliction, none can remove it but He: if He touches thee with happiness He has power over all things." (Quran 6:17)

Ibn al-Qayyim said: “When Allah tests you it is never to destroy you. When He removes something in your possession it is only in order to empty your hands for an even greater gift.”

Go easy on yourself, for the outcome of all affairs is determined by Allah’s decree. If something is meant to happen, it will never come your way, but if it is yours by destiny, from you it cannot escape.

Have faith, do not lose hope, and wait patiently. He indeed will create a way to deliver you from your hardships, so always supplicate to the one that answers the dua’ of the believers.

Duas for Depression, Anxiety, and Worry:

Ibn 'Abbas (May Allah be pleased with them) said: “The Messenger of Allah (pbuh) used to say when he was in distress: "La ilaha illallahul-Azimul-Halim. La ilaha illallahu Rabbul-'Arshil-'Azim. La ilaha illallahu Rabbus-samawati, wa Rabbul-ardi, wa Rabbul-'Arshil- Karim. (None has the right to be worshipped but Allah the Incomparably Great, the Compassionate. None has the right to be worshipped but Allah the Rubb of the Mighty Throne. None has the right to be worshipped but Allah the Rubb of the heavens, the Rubb of the earth, and the Rubb of the Honourable Throne)." (Bukhari and Muslim)[ii]

Anas b. Malik said: “I used to serve the Prophet (pbuh) and often hear him say: "O Allah, I seek refuge in You from grief and anxiety, from the hardships of debt, and from being overpowered by men." (Dawud Book 8, Hadith 1536)

Remember this:

Abu Sa'id and abu Huraira reported that they heard Allah's Messenger (pbuh) as saying:

“Never a believer is stricken with discomfort, hardship or illness, grief or even with mental worry that his sins are not expiated for him.” (Muslim Book 32, Hadith 6242)

Recommended Reading for Depression

Search Dua Collections

Advice for Trials and Tribulations We Face

Islamic Solutions for Depression (Article - extensive, goes into types of depression too)

What does the Quran and Sunnah say about Trials and Tribulations?

Don’t Be Sad (free e-book download)

The Key to Happiness (free e-book download)

Dealing with Worries and Stress. (article)

How Islam Deals With Sadness and Worry (articles)

25 Ways to Deal with Stress and Anxiety (article)

How to Deal with Sadness and Worry (lesson articles - 2 parts)

[i] Harvard Medical School, Harvard Heath Publications , Retrieved September 27, 2016.

[ii] Riyad us-Salihin, Book of Dua, Book 17, Hadith 1502

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