IT IS SOLACE enough to know that symptoms of depression exists in every individual and that makes it normal, but there is a difference between sadness and depression. Sadness is part of being human. It is He who causes you to laugh and cry [Sûrat Al-Najm, 53:43]. It is He who brings happiness and sadness. And every human experiences it.
Depression, however, is not a “one size fits all” especially when it comes to gender. The risk and rate of divorce is twice as high in women than in men. The risk of more women experiencing depression than men has been traced to stress levels in women. The stresses include major responsibility at home, school, work, single parenthood and caring for children and aging parents.
It has also been proven that depression is more predominant in women because women have a tendency to rehash negative feelings or occurrences. This includes crying to release emotional tension and trying to figure out the reason of depression. However, rumination has been found to maintain and even make it worse.
The rates of depression are also affected and increased by difference in biological cycle in women. Women’s reproductive events include the menstrual cycle, pregnancy, post pregnancy period, infertility, and menopause. These events bring fluctuation in mood that for some women include depression. A good example of this is post partum depression and “baby blues.” Baby blues is mild and mildly expected, and will disappear with time and a good support system; but for post partum depression, medical help should be sought.
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These stresses combined with the biological experiences could be the reason for the increased risk and rate of depression in women.
The Line Separating Depression from Sadness?
Sadness points to a cause, an inability to get something or attain a goal, or to having suffered a loss. Depression, however does not point to a source. It is a feeling of hopelessness, loss of meaning in life, of not being able to feel pleasure—without being able to identify the cause of the gloominess. Nothing makes any sense. Usually, the one who is down in the dumps isn’t able to feel any pleasure or happiness. The depressed person just exists without living, and cannot connect with happiness. It’s the similitude of one who is lame and just cannot walk, try as he might.
To treat this, close relations have to also accept the situation without just saying, “You have to be thankful.” The sufferer knows that; she just can’t feel it. Depression is sometimes characterised by extreme cases of crying for no particular reason, crying that just won’t be controlled.
Solace from Family/Friends
It should be understood that your first feeling for the one whom you do not now understand should be concern. It is also important that you be patient and listen, for with this, they will then voice every thought and concern of theirs, thereby leading to a solution. Do not say “Nothing is wrong with you, be strong” with a smug look on your face. She is strong enough to voice it already. And saying that makes her feel too dependent. It’s the first step to finding a solution for your loved one. And she also understands the pain you go through. On the brighter side, it is a test, and an expiation of your sins.
Be sure We shall test you with something of fear and hunger, some loss in goods or lives or the fruits (of your toil), but give glad tidings to those who patiently persevere–who say, when afflicted with calamity: To Allah we belong, and to Him is our return”–they are those on whom (descend) blessings from their Lord, and mercy, and they are the ones that receive guidance. [Sûrat Al- Baqarah, 2:155-157]
Hardship continues to befall a believing man and woman in their body, family, and property, until they meet Allah burdened with no sin. (Tirmidhi).
It is important that you do not be the fire that helps take them away from religion either by yourself in finding a solution – since depression is still one disease we don’t want to be associated with in our Ummah. Accordingly, we do not first seek medical attention. Whatever you do, do not seek a harâm means. For every illness, he has created a cure. Nor should you reject the very existence of the disease, hence, despairing of the existence of a living, loving God.
Steps to Take in Seeking an Islamic Solution
- Belief is the greatest cure. No pill, counselling session, techniques to cope can compare to a strong belief in God. It’s the reason we are sane. You will always have something to fall back on, a reason to put your request to Him. As long as one believes in a living, merciful God, one has reason to be optimistic.
- You are not in control but you can choose what you want to do. Depression happens because of a feeling of helplessness. You should embrace the knowledge that you are not in control. But sow the seed, let the unforeseen forces bring the rain. Work on what you can do: You can sow the seed; you can make the right choices.
- The lifeline to God is prayer. It is a good time to turn to the One Who controls everything. Turning to God restores us like water does a green plant. Cry to him from the sincerity of your heart, saying:I call upon you, to release me of this emotional burden; for the one whom you have helped on a matter, he will not be forsaken, and the one whom you have not helped cannot receive help.Say the following prescribed duʿâ’:Allâhuma, inni ʿabduka, ibnu ʿabdika, ibnu amatika, nâṣiyati biyadika, mâḍin fiyya qaḍâ’uka, as’aluka bikulli ismin huwa laka, sammaita bihi nafsaka, aw anzaltahu fî kitâbika, aw ʿallamtahu aḥadan min khalqika, awista’tharta bihi fî ʿilmil ghaibi ʿindaka, an tajʿal al-Qurâna rabîʿa qalbi, wa nûra ṣadri, wa jalâ’a ḥuzni, wa dhahâba hammi. [Oh Allah, I am Your slave and the son of Your slaves. My fate is in your hands. Your judgement upon me is assured. Justice upon me is Your command. I ask You by every Name You have taken for Yourself, revealed in Your Book, taught any one of Your creation or taken unto Yourself in the realm of the unknown, to make the Quran the spring of my heart, and the light of my breast, the banisher of my sadness and the reliever of my despondency.]And know:Is not He (the One) who responds to the distressed one when he calls out to Him? [Sûrat al-Naml, 27:62]
- But really can you criticize your Muslim brother/sister for visiting a doctor due to severe depression or anxiety just because it is an emotional issue? By Allah,There is no disease that Allah has created, except that He also has created its treatment. (Bukhâri)Seek the cure, however it may be, medical, ruqya, but whatever you do, do not resort to ḥarâm means.…So treat sickness, but do not use anything ḥarâm. (Abû Dâwûd)Know that those who are patient are successful:…Endure and be more patient… and fear Allah, so that you may be successful. [Sûrat Âl ʿImrân, 3:200]
For indeed, we Muslims seek the next world more than this world.
- And stand tall. Perhaps after overcoming this condition, you will have those who will look at you with eyes that say, “You are inferior.” If so, shake that aside. Move on like nothing happened. Your depression was just one type of illness among many other illnesses. For illness of the body, we can see and feel it. That of the mind, we cannot see it, and others also cannot feel it. That is why it is difficult for others to understand, or to understand its existence. You do not say that someone else doesn’t have a headache just because you can’t feel it. The same applies here. Depression doesn’t deserve much less acknowledgement than a headache does.
- Live in hope and fear. Don’t get me wrong. I do not mean fear as in anxiety–life is always lived in these two. Starting a business, you fear that something will go wrong, you are taking a risk. But you also hope that things will go right. It’s the way life is. And if it doesn’t go right, let it be. Just pick yourself up and try again. They say life is like a camera, you focus and then capture: If it doesn’t turn out, or turn out right, just take another shot at it.
- Lastly, do you know that in some cases depression is just the result of chemical imbalance? Perhaps, seeing a doctor would help.