Depression: The Islamic Prescription


Depression is a medical condition or a mood disorder that is characterized by a persistent feeling of sadness, loss of interest in activities, insomnia, unintentional weight loss or gain, poor academic grade, loss of appetite.
Being in a state of depression is not exactly the same as feeling gloomy. Feeling sad could be after the loss of something or someone precious, losing a competition, or simply not achieving a set goal. Depression, on the other hand, has to do with a persistent and consistent feeling of being down and gloomy. Before an individual can be termed as depressed, the feeling should continue for at least two weeks. This is to ascertain that it is not a particular matter that is on a person’s mind.

Depression and Bipolar Disorder are two sides of a coin that people often mistake one for the other. Depression is unipolar, which means that there is no up period in the episodes, but Bipolar Disorder includes episodes of excess energy. While a depressed person is sluggish, has no interests in doing rigorous activities, and wants to stay in bed all day, a person with Bipolar Disorder is hyperactive and is always engaged in energy exerting activities. They are two extremes of the same rope.

There are different causes of depression, which range from changes in neural circuit activity, genetics, type of personality of the individual, environmental factors, psychological and social factors. A person’s personality and outlook towards life can cause depression. If an individual has low self-esteem, such an individual would be affected deeply by social changes and unacceptance from neighbors, friends, and family. This would make them sink into a depressed state of mind.

Also, social factors like continuous exposure to violence and abuse can make people, especially children not strong psychologically and affect self-esteem. It makes them more vulnerable and prone to heartbreaks.
Life can be a reason for an individual to be depressed. Some people are not mentally strong enough to understand and process the tides of life event and are plunged into depression when they experience it. A childhood trauma like rape, abuse, a life-threatening disease, or trouble making friends are sure ingredients for craving loneliness, being moody, and having suicidal thoughts.
Whether male or female, young or old, depression affects anyone no matter the age. It could set in early in life or later due to some circumstances. However, or wherever it may set in, there are different ways in which one can treat depression. It can be through talk therapy or taking medication. This proves that depression is a medical issue and not a metaphysical weapon to destroy people.
Islam is a perfect religion. It is the path that Allah has set for anyone who wants to attain paradise. Allah says in Q 5:4 that “…I have perfected your religion this day, and completed my favor on you and chosen for you Islam as a religion…”.
Islam has solutions to all problems. Among the cures that Allah has provided for mankind is the black seed. A tradition of the prophet (saw) goes thus that “take the black seed regularly. It is a cure for all diseases except death”.

A major cause of depression is the segregation and exclusion of people in society. A child can easily get depressed if such a child does not feel loved or accepted among his peers, at school, home, or in the family. A verse of the Holy Quran, Q 4:37 states that “Serve Allah, and join not with Him any partner, and do good to parents and kinsfolk, orphans, those in need, neighbours who are near, neighbours who are strangers, the companion by your side, the wayfarer (traveller), and those whom your right hand possess; for Allah loves not those who are arrogant”.
A tradition of the Prophet (saw) states that “the person who breaks the bond of kinship will not enter paradise”. This verse and hadith are proof that Allah has enjoined on man goodness to his family and neighbors, and has enjoined mankind to be kind one another.
Adherents of Islam are required to treat everybody they meet with kindness, and this ensures that people around them will not feel left out or hurt. Greeting people and smiling are some of the kindest gestures which can help alleviate anxiety. A hadith translates, “Do not disdain a good deed, no matter how small it is, even if it is meeting your brother with a cheerful face”. (Sahih Muslim).

The Ahmadiyya Muslim Jama’at preaches ‘Love for all, hatred for none’. This advocate for peace in the world. A fundamental aspect of peace is to care for people. A tradition of the prophet states that “none of you is a true believer till he loves for his brother, what he loves for himself”. Wanting the good for friends and neighbours amount to caring and praying for them. When someone is in need, it is our duty as Muslims to help in every way possible. With this, people do not feel left out, and even when an individual has depression, there would be the love to help bring the person out of it.

Children, who have been exposed to trauma, child abuse, and harsh words have the tendency to be depressed. Islam cautions one from the use of harsh words. “Do not speak with a statement for which you may have to apologize tomorrow”, (Ibn Majah). The above hadith buttresses the use of kind and healthy words to soothe people. When people are conscious of what they say, they become conscious of how their words affect others.

Islam is a religion of brotherhood, where everybody is supposed to care for the growth of the Ummah, and the betterment of the adherents. From checking up on one’s neighbours, to helping out physically, spiritually, financially, and helping them grow, no one is left behind. In such a religion that seeks to integrate humanity into a family structure, every adherent should take it upon themselves to help anyone in need.