Depression is like being stuck in a deep, dark dungeon. The walls are dull and there are no windows. You feel suffocated and disturbed all the time. Your head feels empty and you feel lifeless: like all your abilities and energy have been sucked away by a black hole.
The worst part is, no one seems to understand the mental pain you are going through. People label you and call you lazy, moody and selfish.
I’ve been through severe clinical depression and would not wish that mental agony for anyone. But despite the pain, Allah taught me many precious lessons through my depression. This illness has shaped me into the person I am today and I do not regret having this disorder.
When I was actually having depressive episodes, I wished someone would teach me how to manage this deathly affliction. But that never happened. That’s when I learned the valuable lesson that when you can’t find a shady tree, plant one.
“Verily never will Allah change the condition of a people until they change it themselves.” [Qur’an: Chapter 13, Verse 11]
This article is the tree I’ve planted to help you bring back productivity to your life. So here are 5 proven and practical ways to manage depression that have done wonders for me and many different people for years:
Initially in my depression, I was always told to pray more. But I never understood this advice nor did it seem to help me. I was already praying but the depression wasn’t going away. Then I realized: I didn’t need to change the amount of my salah, rather I needed to change the quality of it.
When I started improving my relationship with Allah through salah, I noticed an immense change in my mood. Salah helped me manage depression because in sujood, I would make dua to Allah to help me cope with this illness. That’s when I learned the second technique to managing depression…
Suggesting taking anti-depressants might come as a shocker for many, but there is nothing wrong with using them if your doctor has prescribed them for you. Just like a deep cut needs a bandage, clinical and severe depression warrants medication.
However, this option is not for everyone. When you have situational depression (which I talk about in my depression eBook), pills are often not the answer. With this type of depression, you need…
3. Exercise and Healthy Eating
If you’re skeptical about the consequences of taking prescribed anti-depressants, here’s my personal experience: I’ve been able to completely stay off anti-depressants for ages because of the life style changes I’ve made. I did need pills when I had severe depression, but once the severe down time passes, a little physical exercise and healthy eating can do wonders for your mood. Learn how to make your personal exercise program and plan healthy, tasty meals for yourself!
4. Support Network
Strong support networks are one of the most effective aides to completely overcoming depression and regaining your productivity. When you’re low:
- don’t be alone: be with positive people from your friends or family
- talk out your depression with people who you know will be of help, but be careful of whom you trust
- seek help from as many different professionals as you need
Therapy helps you identify the triggers of your depression (even clinical depression) and works better than medication. Psychotherapy, cognitive behavioral therapy or art therapy – you can explore and choose the therapy that works best to bring back your liveliness. Remember, therapy is a consistent process and needs regular sessions to work. It’s like mental exercise: just like we need to stimulate our body physically, therapy helps stimulate our minds to become productive again.
Ultimately, every shady tree that gives you refuge from depression is a favor from Allah. Cherish it, be grateful for it and use it to your advantage.
What is your experience with depression? What do you do when you feel depressed? Comment below!
About the Author:
Saba Malik is a blogger at and founder of MorningWind.org. She is a teacher, life coach and has authored “When you’re Muslim, You Can Manage Depression with Islam” (available for free on http://www.MorningWind.org). Talk to her at [email protected].