What is depression?

Depression is a mental condition characterized by mild to intense sadness, lack of energy, hopelessness and inability to enjoy anything.

There are various mental disorders. Depression is the most common of these. Depression is more than sadness. Sadness does occur in depression, but then in tenfold.

Being upset, sad and angry are emotions, while depression is not. Depression is a mental state that drastically hinders a person's life.

Mild Depression

Someone with mild depression can still function in daily life, but experiences some difficulty in doing so. The mild depression brings a person down from time to time by taking in a lot of energy.

Chronic form of depression

A severe (chronic) depression is active for more than two months. This form of depression makes it very difficult for a person to get any usefulness out of life.

The person with chronic depression feels weak and hopeless. Nothing to little can bring joy, which often leads to the person wanting to end his own life.

  1. Islamic view of depression
  2. Treatment of depression
  3. Stories of depression in Islam

Islam about depression

There is a huge misconception that depression arises because of a lack of spirituality. So people argue that depression is because a person spends little on his or her religion.

While lack of spirituality may lead to feelings of depression, it is only a small part of it.

Islam looks beyond spirituality. Allah created us with physical, emotional, mental and spiritual health. These factors should be taken into account when dealing with depression.

People who are depressed indicate that it has to do with emotional and mental health. That is indeed the point, for depression is, as the meaning implies: a mental disorder.

Useless sayings and advice for depression
  1. Pray five times a day
  2. Strengthen your Imaan
  3. Have Sabr (patience)
  4. It will get better with time
  5. Remember Allah more
  6. Faith is the best medicine for depression
  7. Look at the one who has less than you
  8. Think about the positive things

One can pray Fajr in the mosque, remember Allah many times, trust in Him, but still have a depression.

So depression has nothing to do with one's religion. Anyone can fall into depression due to hard and difficult experiences in his or her life. Just as we refer someone with a broken leg to a doctor, we should refer people with depression to a psychologist.

People who advise you to look at someone less fortunate are ignorant of depression. It does not solve anything. Of course it is good to stay aware of that, but that will not help someone to get rid of the depression.

Depression is aimed at the emotional and mental part of our health. It is not about being ungrateful, because the disorder does not arise with spiritual issues.

Treatment of depression

Islam pays attention to general health. The religion encourages you to eat healthy food, pay attention to your feelings, de-stress and maintain your religion.

All these things make for a close connection to be able to have good health. If one has a mental disorder, then one speaks of a reduced health, because the mental or emotional factor is missing.

1. Talk to someone about it

So Islam calls for you to maintain your mental and emotional health. That is done by talking about it. Unfortunately, that is not always possible, because there is quite a stigma around depression in Islam. People tend to quickly think of a lack of spirituality.

Fortunately, there are certain options available to present the problems to others. Therefore, find someone who understands you and who does not jump to quick and unnecessary conclusions.

If this is not possible, you might be able to find some groups online to discuss it. You can then, together with others, relieve the depressive feelings, because you may feel more understood.

2. Find the cause

Depression can be quite complex. This can be caused by problems in a relationship, too much pressure, bullying, disrespect from others, etc.

To find out why you have depression, ask yourself, "What am I missing right now on an emotional or mental level?". This gives you insight into what you long for and what may have a major influence on your depression.

Is it difficult to find the cause? Then we advise you to look at your childhood. What did you miss then and what do you think could be done better? Our philosophy on depression is that it stems from childhood.

The pain and discomfort of our childhood is what we still have to lift when we grow older. That emotional pain often results in a depressive disorder. Mental health specialist: Gabor Maté, elaborates on this.

3. Allow yourself grief

For depressed people it is a big task to cry. That's because of the numbness that depression causes.

The body can only handle so much. And if it has to work overtime for a long time, it gets exhausted. In that exhausted state, it becomes difficult to feel emotions.

In order to make yourself feel sad, insight into the cause is required. Do you know what caused you to have this depression? Then you are one step closer.

The next step to grief is to let yourself know that it is not your fault. In fact, there may have been injustice done to you. By not seeing yourself as guilty, you provide space to feel your emotions again.

In order to break the barrier, we advise you to understand the root cause. There are several videos available for that, so you don't have to do it all by yourself. Here a video that elaborates on that.

4. Resolve with compassion

After you have followed all the steps, compassion is the last thing to consider. That is what makes a person move forward and process the bad and unpleasant experiences and deep unmet needs.

Compassion is what gives us the ability to forgive ourselves. In addition, it offers us a freedom, because compassion gives us that space.

You can think of a good parent who helps the child in difficult times. The child is thus supported. That is the compassion we need to work on in order to give it to ourselves.

Once a depressed person can generate compassion for themselves, the opportunity to heal arises. Depression is curable, just like any other illness. Allah has brought down the cure with every disease.

Depression treatment process is not easy

Treating depression is a lengthy and difficult process. The fundamentals are understanding why you have depression, and experiencing/feeling the fundamental cause.

To give yourself some convenience, you can choose a person you want to go through the process with. Open up yourself to a confidential person.

Look up as much as you can and dive deep into your childhood. Forgive yourself for the unpleasant experiences you've been through. Feel all your emotions, and leave nothing untreated.

What about medicines?

There are several medications to treat depression. These medications are intended to temporarily reduce depression in order to function better on a daily basis.

Prozac, Paxil, Luvox, Celexa, Cipralex and Zoloft are the main medications for depression. It is not forbidden in Islam to use medication as long as no prohibited substances are used. Think, for example, of alcohol or pork products.

Many therapists recommend combining medication and therapy for better results. These medicines is not intended to cure depression, but to reduce the symptoms of depression.

Stories of depression in Islam

While most people do not think depression had occured, there are some stories about it. Depression occurred even in the times of Islam.

Depression has a negative image for many. There is a big stigma surrounding this mental disorder. Also, many people do not know how to deal with it.

1. Story of Al-Tufayl's friend

When the Sahaba emigrated to Medina, Al-Tufayl (a Sahabi) and a friend of his experienced great difficulty. They found the climate and environment of Medina to be difficult and uncomfortable.

The friend of Al-Tufayl's got sick because of the surroundings of Medina. The discomfort came to him and resulted in him struggling with anxiety. He felt so uncomfortable that he decided to kill himself.

Al-Tufayl saw that friend in his dream. And in that dream his friend told him that he is forgiven for his deed, because of the great good deed of emigration from Mecca to Medina.

Jabir reported: "When the Prophet (ﷺ) emigrated to Madinah, Al-Tufayl ibn 'Amr also emigrated along with a man from his people. They disliked the climate of Madinah and the man got sick and suffered from anxiety. He took some of his arrowheads, cut the joints of his fingers, and his hands bled till he died. Al-Tufayl saw him in a dream looking healthy, but his hands were covered. Al-Tufayl said: "How has your Lord treated you?" The man said: "He has forgiven me because of my emigration to his Prophet." Al-Tufayl said, "Why do I see your hands covered?" The man said, "I have been told, 'We will not mend what you yourself have ruined'." Al-Tufayl related the story to the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) and he said: “O Allah, forgive also his hands.” [Sahih Muslim Hadith 116]

The narration proves that suicide is not disbelief, nor that a person will have to enter Hellfire first.

Imam Muslim mentioned that Hadith under the title: 'Proof that suicide is not disbelief'. Allah forgives every sin, except Shirk or Kufr if one comes to die without having repented from it.

2. Story of Ibn Sayyad

This story is one of the most important stories to know. We get a lot of wisdom and knowledge from this. His full name is Abdullah Ibn Sayyad or Saf ibn Saaid. He is a person that the Sahaba believed to be the Dajjal.

His story started as a small boy with a Jewish background. He had connections with the Jinn, which led him to delve into soothsaying.

When Ibn Sayyad grew up he embraced Islam and abandoned soothsaying. Ibn Sayyad fought with the Muslims in wars, performed Hajj and engaged in Islam.

Ibn Sayyad was very upset that the Sahaba saw him as the Dajjal. He even wanted to take his own life.

Abu Saeed Al-Khudri reported: "We were with an army from Madinah. Abdullah bin Sayyad was in the army, and no one accompanied him, neither ate with him, nor drank with him, and they called him the Dajjal. Abdullah bin Sayyad saw me and came to me and said, "O Abu Saeed! Do you not see what people do to me, nobody follows me, nobody guides me, nobody shares with me, nobody eats with me, and they call me the Dajjal. Do you not know O Abu Sa'eed, that the Messenger of God (ﷺ) said: "The Antichrist does not enter Madinah." And I was born in Madinah. I heard the Messenger of God (ﷺ) say, "The Dajjal will not have children", but I have children! I was thinking about putting a rope around my neck to commit suicide, so I can get some rest from these people. I swear to God I am not the Dajjal. But if you like, I can tell you his name, his father's name, his mother's name, and the name of the village where he comes from. [Musnad Ahmad 7/37]

Abu Saeed Al-Khudri reported: "We came back after we did Hajj or 'Umra and Ibn Sa'id was with us. And we camped in one place and the people scattered and I and he were left behind. I felt terribly afraid of him because about what was said regarding him. He brought his goods and put them with my luggage and I said: It is intense heat. Would you mind putting that under that tree? And he did. Then a flock of sheep appeared before us. He went and brought a cup of milk and said: Abu Sa'id, drink that. I said it is very hot right now, and the milk would be too (while it was a fact) I didn't like to drink from his hands or take it from his hand. Ibn Sayyad then said: Abu Sa'id, I am thinking of hanging a rope from a tree and committing suicide because of what people say about me. He who is ignorant of the sayings of the Messenger of Allah I can forgive, but are those sayings hidden from you O people of the Ansar?! Didn't the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) say that he (Dajjal) would be a disbeliever, while I am a Muslim? Didn't Allah's Messenger (ﷺ) say that Dajjal cannot have children while I have left my children in Madinah? Did not the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) say: He would not enter Madinah and Makkah while I came from Madinah and now intend to go to Makkah? Abu Sa'id said: I was about to accept the excuse put forward by him until he said: I know the place where Dajjal was born and where he is now. So I said to him, "May your day be bad". [Sahih Muslim 2927c]

Ibn Sayyad still had some information about the Dajjal that he had obtained in his younger years as a soothsayer. Because he made that known, there was quite a bit of uncertainty about him.

The Sahaba did not know what to believe. Sometimes he claims not to be the Dajjal, but at other times he causes confusion.

Ibn Sayyad died a Muslim in Madinah. He had two sons, both of whom were great students of the Sahaba. He is not the Dajjal, but a Muslim about whom much ambiguity arose.

Abu Athari writes about basic principles within Islam. He uses his critical and well-researched way to spread knowledge of the first three Muslim generations.

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