How single mothers can combat depression using Islamic principles

Depression is a state in which those affected suffer from feelings of hopelessness, a lack of interest in things and feelings of personal worthlessness. Sadly, it is a subject that is still a taboo in many cultures. Depressed people  are simply told to pray salaah and make dhikr to get over it. What many people do not understand is that depression is thought to be caused by a chemical imbalance and negative thought patterns. One’s eemaan may also be low.  Other methods need to be sought out too in conjunction with salaah and dhikr.

1 in 5 women and 1 in 10 men are thought to suffer from depression

The solution lies in medicines that correct the imbalance, but also in changing negative thought patterns. Anti-depressants work by regulating hormones. Exchanging defeatist thoughts for more positive ones is what Islam promotes by telling us to have faith.

I suffered from depression before I had any real understanding of what it was. When I became a mother things seemed to get worse instead of better. I suffered from post-natal depression, and felt like I was in way over my head. I was also having marital problems at the time and the abuse didn’t help my mindset. Alhamdulillah, every thing happens for a reason. When my marriage ended I found the boost I needed to go and seek help after hitting rock bottom. Therapy helped me a lot. It challenged my negative core beliefs and looked at where they came from. I realised many of the names I called myself came from others and weren’t true of me. I practiced self-love and self-care.

I had to become the change I wanted to see in myself.  And so, rather than criticising myself negatively, I started doing it positively :praising my good points and tackling the bad points one step at a time.  I knew one of the best ways to elevate my mood was with positive thoughts and I  became interested in personal development.  I found out more about Islam and tried to feel the blessing in each moment, in each day. I tried to pray my salaah with concentration and tried to be a better person by helping others as much as I could.

What does the Qur’an say about depression?

There are many inspiring verses from the Qur’an kareem – the most beautiful book in the world which talks about sadness and how to deal with it.  Some, are as follows:

“No calamity befalls on the earth or in yourselves but is inscribed in the Book of Decrees – before We bring it into existence” –  57:22 .  Everything has been pre-ordained and everything that happens was meant to happen.

“Verily, with hardship, there is relief” – 94:6.  After every burden comes ease of some sort, it’s up to YOU to open your eyes and see it; Allah (swt) does not let any illness or anxiety befall us except that He erases some of our sins too.

“Be not sad, surely Allah is with us” – 9:40.  At times of low eemaan, it is to Allah we should supplicate and turn to, for He alone, has the power to change things.

“And certainly, We shall test you with something of fear, hunger, loss of wealth, lives and  fruits” – 2:15.  Allah (swt) tests everyone at some point or another to see how strong your faith is and if you still believe in Him.  This is simply your test NOT a punishment (especially if it wasn’t your fault).  We should be thankful that things were not worse, some people may get tested in ALL areas, or all in one go whilst others may suffer for years and in a more severe way.  We should always look at those worse off so that we are grateful for what we do have.

How can I overcome my depression?

So how can you cure your depression, or is it something you will suffer from forever? Well, to think like that is to give up hope in the Mercy of Allah swt which is not how a Muslim should think. However, sometimes it’s not easy to see the light or know where to begin. I’ve compiled a list below of the things that helped me with my depression alhamdulillah.

• Behavioural activation: increased activity –> feeling hopeful –> improves depression –> greater energy –> increased activity. It’s a cycle. When you are depressed you have low energy and therefore you aren’t very active. This leads to you feeling worse and increases your depression. By injecting behaviour in to your routine, whether it’s doing things for pleasure or necessity you change the pattern; leading to a decrease in depression. A great exercise to write out truthfully what you do every day hourly, so you can see where you can fit in more activity.
• Turn to Allah swt: this should be your first port of call. When we are depressed we don’t feel close to Allah swt and we need to change this around so our hearts feel lighter. Increase your ibadat, fast more, do your dhikr, pray voluntary prayers. These are just some of the things you can do to help. You can also watch uplifting lectures.
• Sabr: it’s important to have sabr, not just with your situation but with yourself too. You are going through something and you shouldn’t beat yourself up if you are struggling because Allah swt is Merciful. Have faith that you will get through it and let yourself heal.
• Anti depressants: they aren’t for everyone but they can be an aid, they were for me. Make sure you speak to your doctor properly before deciding; only you know what’s right for you.
• Ruqyah: this is where you use the Qur’an as a cure for any illnesses you may be afflicted with. Allah swt says in the Qur’an that the Qur’an is a source of shifa’a or healing. By simply reciting the Qura’an or listening to it you can improve and even cure your depression. If Allah swt can permit you to have it, then why can’t He take it away also?
• Sadqa: helping others not only makes us feel good but is pleasing to Allah swt. You never know which good deed will allow your trial to end in sha Allah.
• Friends: get a good support system around yourself. Surround yourself with positive people who pick you up and remind you of Allah swt. Angels gather where the name of Allah swt is mentioned.
• Fresh air: subhanallah, when Allah swt has created so much beauty around us – in the trees, birds, sky etc. how can this not ease our sadness when we look upon it and contemplate our vast blessings?!
• Remember that sadness is a tool of the shaytaan to disrupt the believer: once I reflected on this, a determination overtook me to help myself get better. I had fought too hard in my life to let the shaytaan win now.

When I started to really take all of this on board, subhanallah I started to feel different inside.  My life hadn’t suddenly gotten better overnight but I had hope and appreciated the gifts that Allah had bestowed upon me, the way He has bestowed gifts upon us all.  You can change your mindset, and all it takes is gratitude, humility and faith; being appreciative builds up faith.  Depression is NOT a disease you are condemned to suffer from forever; subhanallah the cure to it lies within ourselves; in our hearts and minds.  Medicine regulates your body, but a positive attitude and inner peace (found within Islam) regulates your soul and your mind.

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