Depression is a condition which affects a growing population of individuals around the world. It does not discriminate with regard to race, educational background, social status or religion. Despite the fact that there is nothing to be ashamed of, individuals who suffer from this condition usually bear it quietly for fear of the stigma of being labelled as having a mental incapacity.
Islam being not just a religion but also a complete way of life has provided us with a solution out of every problem, and depression is one problem the solution to which can be found in the teachings of Islam. I must stress here that I will not discuss anti-depressants as steps for walking out of depression, the reason being, I consider them to be more chemical than practical. Speaking from personal knowledge and experience, we shall examine six ways of rising above the trials and tribulations of depression:
1. Reciting Suratul Nas:
Basically, depression mostly consists of feelings of self-doubt and extremely low self-esteem which I can attribute to the deceptive whisperings of Shaitan. When one peruses through the meaning of Suratul Nas, you will notice it is mostly a prayer for protection from the whisperings of Shaitan. Consistently reciting Surah tul Nas, whenever feelings of self-doubts surface; will safeguard one from depression and uplift the mood of one who suffers from depression.
2. Reciting the duas for overcoming anxiety and sorrow:
‘O Allaah, I am Your servant, son of Your servant, son of Your maidservant, 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 name 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.’[Hisnul Muslim].
‘O Allaah, I take refuge in You from anxiety and sorrow, weakness and laziness, miserliness and cowardice, the burden of debts and from being over powered by men.’[Hisnul Muslim].
3. Take up or join a charitable cause:
It is a proven fact that giving one’s time to providing others with happiness by engaging in charitable causes also has an effect on a person’s mood, countenance and disposition. It’s a simple formula; you give happiness, you get happiness. A charitable cause in this sense need not be something huge in terms of financial consideration. It could be anything from volunteering at a nearby orphanage, soup kitchen, organizing a clothes collection to give to the needy or simply feeding one needy person with a meal a day. Once you start to put a smile on people’s faces, inshaAllah your mood will improve dramatically.
4. Take walks and appreciate nature:
One major feature of depression is that it takes hold of sufferers and drains their mental vitality. It is common to find that depressed individuals lose the zeal to interact with people, recede into their own mental shells or confine themselves to their homes, thereby further plunging themselves into the hold of depression. Although it is not as easy as it seems, taking walks and appreciating nature will definitely uplift the spirit and lighten the mood. Speaking from personal experience, I can say seeing the beauty of Allah’s creation and appreciating things as simple as the interaction of birds in the sky, the scenery of the land can be a step towards walking out of depression.
5. Start a new hobby:
As the English saying goes “An idle mind is the devil’s workshop.” If someone suffering from depression stays idle, while isolating himself from the world, then there is a greater chance of one spiraling deeper into depression. Starting a new hobby can also act as an effective barrier against depression. Hobbies such as reading a book, starting an interactive Islamic blog, exercising or reciting the Qur’an are all productive hobbies. I must stress here that listening to music, watching movies or engaging in other frivolous and non-rewarding are not hobbies in this case.
6. Think about how easy your life is:
If all the aforementioned tips fail, then this will certainly jolt you out of your reverie. Think about what you’re going through and ask yourself “Can it in any way compare to what the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him)?” “Am I going through even 1% of what he went through?” He lost his parents at a very young age. He lost his wife and uncle at a time when he needed their support the most. He was persecuted by his kinsmen and banished from his own homeland. What on earth are you going through that even remotely compares to that?
I know fighting depression is not as easy as it sounds but inshaAllah, with determination and sincerity, the above steps will help in the fight to step out of it.
About the Author:
Usman Shamaki is a legal practitioner based in Nigeria. Though this is the first article he has written in a public forum, it is his intention to keep writing in future.