Q&A: How can I help my friend who is in depression?

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Q: As Muslims, if we’re aware that a fellow brother or sister is suffering from depression, how do we help them or deal with them without enabling them in the Islamic context? We wouldn’t want to just leave them causing harm to themselves and others.

A: My undergraduate course was in psychology. I had to go back and remember all this information about depression and psychological disorders. When we have people in our lives who are in pain, of course we want to help them the best way that we can.

To me the answer to everything is Love. Love them, let them know that they’re cared for, that they’re not alone in this world, help them to find the professional help that they need. Encourage them to worship Allah subhanahuwata’ala through zikrullah and all of the other means of worship, and be there for them. Don’t criticize.

It’s not enabling a person by being nice to them. If you recognize that there’s a problem, that they’re having a problem and they’re in pain, of course you’re going to try to help them seek the remedy for that pain, just as if you they were suffering from a physical ailment, you would be helping them try to find the appropriate medicine. Zikrullah is the medicine for the heart.

As you know, so often, the underpinning of depression is anger, repressed anger. It’s very important to help that person to get to the root of what is causing that, and helping them to be able to express themselves and not to keep stuffing all the anger down. Things happen to children sometimes, that they’re not permitted to express, and they manifest as depression later on in their adult lives. Those things have to be uncovered, revealed, and healed.

This question was answered by Hajjah Ashaki Taha-Cissé at The Sacred Path of Love 2013.