Islamic Way of Overcoming Depression

By Ismail Rotimi Lawal

Psychologists define depression as a feeling of intense sadness which may follow a recent loss or other sad events that persists for a considerable length of time. Sadness and unhappiness are common human emotions particularly exhibited in response to distress circumstances.

increase in the numbers of depressed people who end their lives by suicide has
raised an overwhelming concern in the country. According to the World Health
Organization (WHO) 2015 report on suicide-prone nations, more than 300 million
people are suffering from depression globally and Nigeria is ranked 30th.
This short piece x-rays the causes and effects of depression and presents
Islamic prayers and practices that are useful to overcome depression.

Depression in Nigeria – Dashboard for World Health Day 2017 (HealthThink)

relation to depressions, WebMd listed causes of depression on its website as
loss of loved ones, battling with a life-threatening disease, poverty, job
loss, marital problems, loneliness, unrequited love, genetic, and chemical
imbalance in the brain.

in a situation where people that are battling with depression fail to overcome
any of these issues, they become frustrated and sometimes, end up taking their
lives. It adds that it is normal at one point in life to have the feeling of
sorrow, loneliness, helplessness and estrangement, but it becomes a disorder
when one cannot overcome these emotions with time (days to weeks) which then
require medical treatment.

in the modern time and with the proliferation of social media sites, addiction
of young adult to social media and its contents have proven to have negative
impacts on their emotions.

at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine in 2016 conducted a study on
the effects of social media habits on the moods of users, the research showed
that “the more time young adults spent using social media, the more likely they
are to be depressed.”

to highly idealized representations of peers on social media elicits feelings
of envy and the distorted belief that others lead happier, more successful lives.

on the social media are not often the same in reality, a lot of people are
living fake lives on social media which poses threats to the peace of
young adults who cannot afford such standard. These young adults become
anxious, depressed and feel inferior when they see their mates appearing
successful than they are.

often appear successful on social media, they flaunt their achievement to
attract attention and gain media credits while they conceal their failures or
ugly sides of life. Many people only share their good moments on the social,
which makes other users feel jealous and also triggers negative emotions in

However, sometimes last year, there were two suicide cases in Nigeria that went viral on social media and also raised awareness on the rate at which Nigerians commit suicide. One of these was the story of a 300 level student of Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, who drank poisonous substance and left a letter in which she blamed her parents for not showing her love and not being supportive. Similarly, a Lagos-based disc jockey was reported to have drank poisonous substance to end his life due to intense marital challenges. Though the examples may not have their causes from the social media, they point to the fact depression and frustration have contributed to the increasing rate of suicide in our society.

all these happenings, it shows that there is urgent need to address depressions
in Nigeria by sharing helpful information to address its symptoms. Drug therapy
(tricyclic antidepressants, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs),
monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs), psychostimulants) is the cornerstone of
treatment for depression under a doctor’s supervision. Having said that, I will
talk about alternative ways to overcome depression using the teachings of

Holy Qur’an describes all that causes humans pains and fears such as loss of
lives, wealth, fruits as trials from God.

Holy Qur’an, chapter 2 verse 156 states:

“And We will try you with
something of fear and hunger, and loss of wealth and lives, and fruits; but
give glad tidings to the patient,”

has informed the believers that they will face adversities in life as a trial
from God. These misfortunes will bring fears, grief, tears, sadness and pains,
but believers who display high moral qualities, patience, and forbearance; who
do not seek help from any other deities; do not show weakness in faith, and do
not kill themselves out of frustration are the fortunate ones. These are the
true believers that have successfully passed the trials of Allah.

So, Muslims should neither be overwhelmed nor despair, rather they should put their hopes in the All-Mighty when they are faced with afflictions. Also, they should spend their times in the remembrance and glorification of Allah, and should engage more in asking God, the All-Almighty for His forgiveness and mercy.

there are prayers reported to have been taught by the Holy Prophet (peace and
blessings be upon him) to overcome depression.

companion of the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him), Abd-Allah ibn
Mas’ud said, he heard the Messenger of Allah (saw) says:

“No person suffers any
anxiety or grief and says:

“O Allah, I am Your
slave, son of Your slave, son of Your female slave, my forelock is in Your
hand, Your command over me is forever executed and Your decree over me is just.
I ask You by every Name belonging to You which You named Yourself with, or
revealed in Your Book, or You taught to any of Your creation, or You have
preserved in the knowledge of the unseen with You, that You make the Qur’an the
life of my heart and the light of my breast, and a departure for my sorrow and
a release for my anxiety” but Allah will take away his sorrow and grief, and
give him in their stead joy.”
(Musnad Imam Ahmad

it was reported that the Holy Prophet used to say this prayer:

“O Allah, I hope for Your
mercy. Do not leave me to myself even for the blinking of an eye. Correct all
of my affairs for me. There is none worthy of worship but You.”
Dawud 4/324, Ahmad 5/42. Al-Albani graded it as good in Sahih Abu Dawud 3/959).

Having presented these prayers, it is worth stating that Muslims should be contented with whatever Allah has blessed them with. Most people forget their true purpose in life and focus on accumulating wealth and materials, thinking that it will bring them happiness. The true happiness is derived from Allah and in the remembrance of Allah.

Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, The Promised Messiah and Mahdi, the Founder of the
Ahmadiyya Muslim Jama’at, wrote in his book “Fountain of Christianity”, while
explaining true salvation:

“Salvation, in fact, is
the abiding peace and happiness which man, by his very nature, hungers and
thirsts for, and which is achieved through personal love and recognition of
God, and through a perfect relationship with Him- a relationship in which the
fire of love is ablaze on both sides.

But people very often try
to attain this happiness through other means which only serve to increase their
pain and misery in the long run.”

furthered describes where true happiness can be derived in another place in the
same book as thus:

“Through the guidance of
the Holy Quran, we arrive at the subtle truth that everlasting happiness lies
in the recognition of God, and in pure and perfect and personal love for Him,
and in absolute faith, which causes the heart to become restless like a true

Khilafa of Islam, Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad (atba), also advised people
suffering from symptoms of depression during a question and answer session:

“In the Holy Qur’an Allah
the Almighty has said, ‘Surely in the remembrance of Allah, hearts can find
comfort’ (chapter 13 vs 29). Basically, remembrance of Allah the Almighty and
you will achieve peace of heart”

Khilafa then gave practical steps for those suffering from depression:

First “Practice the
remembrance of Allah the Almighty. Pray for yourself, and bow down to Allah. So
one’s cure is the remembrance of Allah the Almighty. The second is to step
forward to serve humanity. The third cure is to mix with people even at home or
internal Jama’at gatherings as well as outside, interact with other people.
Those suffering from depression feel like crying and the peak for this feeling
is around 11 or 12 o’clock during this time they should leave the house, go
outside and walk in fresh air.


is full of ups and downs and these can bring change in emotions. People that
are in depressed state should seek medical advice from experts for proper
diagnosis and treatments. Depressed people are advised to stay away from
substance and its abuse, exercise more, eat healthy food, control their
consumption of social media contents, stay away from thoughts and events that
triggers the emotion, and adopt general healthy lifestyles.

addition, teachers, parents, friends, colleagues are in better position to
identify people that are depressed and might attempt suicide. These set of
people should pay attention to anyone who is showing symptoms of depression –
sad mood, apathy, withdrawal from friends and social situations, reduced
capacity for pleasure, feeling rejected and unloved, sleep disturbance,
self-blame, poor appetite, thoughts of suicide, giving away valuable
possessions, new physical complains, among others.

Muslims should draw near to God All Mighty and seek from Him only, peace and happiness. They should place God above everything, fulfill their duties to God and to their fellow beings, recognize that this earth is temporary. Only then will they find everlasting salvation, happiness and comfort in this temporal world.

Muslims suffering from depression should engage more in supplications, in
remembrance of God, reading of the Holy Qur’an in which lie happiness and
hope. The prayers taught by the Holy Prophet (saw) should also be used by
Muslims having symptoms of depression.

should also be very wary of what they view on the social media as it negatively
affects the emotions of users.

there is ease after hardship.” Qur’an 94:6


  1. Fountain
    of Christianity, Hadrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad of Qadian (as). The Promised Messiah
    and Mahdi and founder of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Jama‘at.
  2. The
    Merck Manual of Medical Information. Mental Health Disorder John P. Glazer, MD.
    Senior Attending Psychiatrist, Department of Psychiatry. Lecturer on
    Psychiatry, Part-time, Harvard Medical School.

About the writer: 
Ismail Rotimi Lawal is a graduate of pharmaceutics. He’s a keen writer and Assistant Secretary Media & Publications of Ahmadiyya Muslim Youth Organization, Nigeria. He is also a member of Muslim Writers’ Guild of Nigeria and the Programs Manager of Health Volunteers Naija, a Non-Governmental Organization – committed to enhanced community health in Nigeria

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