Breaking the Chains of Depression

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Person sits in corner of room obviously overwhelmed by depression
Depression is not a sign of weakness of faith or weakness in character. It is a coping mechanism that must be redirected into submission of Allah.

Depression is a mood disorder in which feelings of sadness, anger or frustration interfere with everyday life for a long period of time. A 2006 Yale study confirmed that many Muslim Americans feels sad, alone, anxious and even identify as depressed. Unfortunately, very few seek treatment for fear of being looked down upon by the community.

As Muslims, we must turn to the Qur’an to seek Allah in times like this.  “And who despairs of the Mercy of his Lord except those who are astray?” (Qur’an 15:56) Remember that Allah (SWT) is merciful and will help those who seek his mercy.  Allah (SWT) promises us in Surah 94:5 “So verily, with the hardship, there is relief,” therefore, we should focus on the relief that Allah has promised and how to attain it.

Dr. Bilal Phillips prescribes a deep submission to the will of Allah as a cure for depression.  In submitting yourself fully to Allah and returning to the state in which Allah has created us, the burdens are erased because we are set free of our self-imposed concerns in the surrender to Allah (SWT).

What follows is precisely Dr. Bilal Phillips’ prescription; to do a complete focused fast on Mondays and Thursdays with this specific method:

Get up very early to read (in Arabic and English if possible) Surah 3:191 – end of the Surah and allow yourself to weep.
(we also suggest Surah 55 Al-Rahmaan for remembrance of Allah’s mercy and bountiful blessings – MA ed.).
Then make a focused wudoo and Tahajjud followed by a very light Suhoor (best option is brown bread, olives and extra virgin olive oil & 2 tablespoons full of canned tuna or one egg) followed by a day of focused sunnah and Fard prayers.
Here when focus is mentioned, it means to really spend time slowly reciting the verses and pondering the meanings as well as the formation of the words.
Throughout the day, utilize any of the Prophet’s du’aas requesting ease like:
Allahumma laa sahla illaa maa ja’altahu sahlaa (O Allah, nothing is easy except what you make easy)
wa anta taj’alus sa’ba in shi’ta sahlaa” (And You can make what is difficult easy if You wish)
as well as the other du’aas for depression like:
“Allaahumma rahmataka arjoo falaa takilnee ilaa nafsee tarfata ‘ayn. wa aslih lee sha’nee kullah. Laa ilaaha illaa Ant.”
(O Allah, it is Your mercy that I hope for, so don’t leave me in charge of my affairs even for the blinking of an eye. And rectify all of my affairs for me. Nothing has the right to be worshipped except You).
See Hisnul Muslim – the Muslim Fortress for more selections.
At the end of the day, break the fast with 3 dates and a glass of water and pray maghrib with focus and intensity.
Follow this with a light Iftaar followed by a focused Ishaa.

In addition, seek help when the weight of depression feels too much. Talk to an Imam, talk to a friend, talk to a counselor; you are not alone.

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