It took me a lot of courage to write this article because even though I have wanted to write on this topic for a very long time, I really didn’t know how to start. For quite a long time I have been hearing scholars talk about depression in their lectures and they usually link it to lack of spirituality.
The first time when I read a post by a friend in which she was addressing depressive disorder as a reason to not practising religion I was bewildered. It felt so wrong and cruel and on top of that people who commented on that post were actually supporting her. I really didn’t know how to start explaining them because they thought that depression was just a delusion of the mind and nothing else. I tried to explain as best I could but I felt I wasn’t that good enough.
Then a few months after that post I heard a lecture given by a scholar on which he was highlighting depression as a mere factor of staying away from God. I felt terrified. I mean a scholar saying that will provide a channel to so many people actually blaming depressive patients for something they are not even doing on purpose. How many of us even blame cancer patients who have been chain smokers that it was their fault? How many of us blame rash drivers for getting into an accident? How many of us blame any sort of physical illness as the person being the cause of its own suffering? Then why do we lack sympathy when it comes to mental disorders?
And then I got my answer!
I thought a lot about it. Coincidentally during those days I was also studying about depressive disorders from a very authentic source known as the DSM (do look it up). It made me think further about it. I have always respected my Muslim scholars and I am a keen listener of Islamic lectures so I knew they wouldn’t really be doing that on purpose. Then one day after a lot of search on different websites and Facebook pages specifically dedicated to depression, I realized something. These scholars and other people talking openly about depression as a lack of piety were actually confused. They had mistaken ‘being depressed’ with ‘suffering from depression.’
It is one thing to be depressed and another thing to suffer from depression. Getting depressed is a phase in our life that could have several reasons, sometimes our own fault but to suffer from depression is not in our hands. Most of the time it is genetic and it involves an imbalance of neurotransmitters in the brain. Hence you would have noticed depressive patients taking medications.
I do agree that one of the causes of getting depressed is lack of spirituality, communication and so on but when someone suffers from depression it is that which causes one to lose interest in their life and everything else related to it. They are not doing it on purpose!
So next time when you are using the word ‘depressed’ or ‘depression’ be sure what you really want to talk about. Also, when coming across someone who is suffering from depression, don’t judge them again with wrong assumptions. I know friends and family who are suffering from depression and they participate in religious practises but are still suffering from depression because depression is not a delusion of the mind, but it is real!
Lastly, if you have understood and support this article then please share it ahead so much that it reaches to all those with wrong assumptions about depression. As a wise person said, ‘we need to be the change we want in the world.’
Jazakallah khairun kaseerun