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Ask the Psychologist – Live Session

Question 1

15, female

Assalamu’alaikum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuhu! I pray that you are good. How can I know if I have depression or not? I can’t reach out to any doctor and can’t pay for online therapies etc.

Wa alaikum salaam wa rahmatulahi wa barakatuh sister,

The only way to be absolutely sure if you have depression or not would be to see a doctor and get the proper assessment necessary, however, I can give you some insight into how you might be able to tell if you may have depression or not.

Suppport AboutIslam.net

Firstly, let’s take a look at some of the common symptoms of depression. Have you been feeling low and sad in the mood? Feeling like you’re not worthy? Have no passion or interest in anything? Even the things you once enjoyed? Have a feeling that there is no way out? No hope in your situation? Feeling that life is not worth living anymore?

Having difficulties sleeping either too much or not enough? Lost your appetite? Not meeting and talking with friends any more? Crying more than usual? Not everyone who is depressed will experience all of these, but they do experience some.

The other thing is that to be classed as clinically depressed then you would have had to been experiencing these symptoms for some time. Everyone experiences some of these symptoms at some point in their life and in most cases, they disappear after a short while. However, when they are present still after some weeks and even months, then this is when one should be concerned that this is likely a case of depression.

Another thing to think about also is whether these feelings have been triggered by a certain circumstance. These feelings can often be a rational response to a negative change in circumstances and are in fact rational responses to the situation.

For example, it would be reasonably common for someone to experience these feelings following the death of a close loved one. In circumstances like this where these feelings of depression are in response to such events, it may be expected that they almost mirror being in a state of depression because they can last for as long as it takes to recover from such events which could be months or even years at times.

The difference for this however would come in the treatment. In cases like this, the cause of the depression is treated in such a way that treatment can be specifically targeted, such as by giving bereavement counseling to help overcome feelings especially related to the death of a loved one. Treatment for general depression would focus more generally on developing ways to manage the symptoms more generally.

If after reading this, you feel that you may have depression, the I would urge you to find a way to seek some help. If you are not able to attend the doctor or pay for online therapies, do have a look for mental health charities local to you, or even online.

There are many such services available these days. Such charities offer free support services via email or telephone. You knight also look to self help tools online as well that will help you to develop the skills to deal with depression that would usually be taught with a therapist.

Whilst these tools are very useful to support people with depression, in more severe and even moderate cases, this does not replace the direct support of a therapist who will be able to give you tailored treatment. With this in mind, I would encourage you to reach out to someone in your family and get their backing in supporting you to get the help you need if you feel that you are indeed depressed.

In the meantime, do reach out to the free resources available to you online that will help give you some support for now whilst you seek support from a family member to go to the doctor and get assessed.

Most importantly, if you are having feelings like life is not worth living anymore and you feel like you don’t want to live or you want to harm yourself then I cannot stress this anymore. You MUST get assistance for this, whether it be that you directly go to the doctors yourself, or whether you consult a family member, it is urgent that you get this support.

ON the other hand, if after reading this you have realised that you are actually not depressed at all, then Alhamdulilah and you have some knowledge of what depression is so that you can be on alert as to when you should be concerned about the possibility of depression. It will also help you to look out for such in your friends and loved ones too.

May Allah save you and your loved ones from experiencing depression. May He bring you ease in your situation and give you comfort during times of need.

Question 2

Assalamu’alaikum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuhu! I pray that you are super good! I have become procrastinating,I want to overcome this thing,how can I How to reduce one’s screen time?

Wa alaikum salaam wa rahmatulahi wa barakatuh sister,

In this case, I think you’ve hit the nail on the head so to speak. You have asked how to reduce screen time which is often a common reason for procrastination. If this is a problem for you, then this is a good place to start to combat procrastination in your case.

Generally, in the case of procrastination, there are reasons behind it, usually that the task at hand is difficult or boring so people put off doing it to avoi ld the unpleasant feelings that come with doing the task. Also, as you have suggested, it may be that there are other factors that contribute to procrastination such as spending to much time on devices.

It may only be one of these things causing procrastination, or a combination of many. Either way, the important thing to overcome procrastination is to identify the things that are hindering moving forward.

Since you have mentioned screen time, we will begin with this. This is a common problem faced these days by people of all ages. It requires a lot of self-discipline to overcome but is certainly possible if you want to make a change. The fact that you have reached out for support suggests that you are ready to make this change.

When it comes to screen time, it is a task that will be quite challenging at first, but with constant monitoring will become much easier. There are a few approaches you can take and you could try them out in turn until you find which is most useful for you personally.

You could brave going for the extreme of engaging in a digital detox where for a specified time you go without all screens, or at least the one that you spend unhealthy amount of time with. This involves literally putting the device aside and not using it at all during this period.

So, for example, pick a day and do not use the device for the entire 24 hour period. You may find yourself restless in wondering how to occupy this time so it’s important that you fill this gap with meaningful tasks. Do something that is completely opposite to being at a screen – do something active! Go out for a walk, engage in a hobby, meet with friends…etc..

You may begin feeling quite negative to begin with as you adjust to a day without your usual screen distraction, but you will soon realise that you can actually do it! You can survive some time without your screen. Not only this, but this time away from, it will also help you to recognise how your screen time is limiting your engagement in other things that are arguably just as as enjoyable and are more healthy.

It will also help you to realise just how much time you are spending needlessly at your screen and how it could be causing you to procrastinate in doing the things that you need to.

Following a digital detox, or instead of if you are not up for doing something so drastic, do some other things to help you reduce your time at the screen.

Download an app that monitors how long you have been spending on certain apps so that you can visually see just how much time you are spending on your device. This alone can shock people into doing something active to reduce their screen time when they realise how much time is being wasted unnecessarily.

Having some figure in mind as to how long you are at your screen, you can make a plan with yourself to gradually reduce this time. Make a timetable for yourself as to how you will decrease your time in set increments on a daily basis, for example, by reducing your time by 10 minutes each day or whatever is more suitable to your personal situation. This will make the task of reducing screen time easier as it is something that will see gradual change that is less obviously noticeable, but will make a difference.

Other approaches to mix in include making sure your screen time is scheduled around other important tasks. Especially in cases like yours, where screen time seems to be linked to procrastination this approach could be particularly useful.

To do this, you need to make sure you schedule necessary and important tasks first before you allow yourself to use your screen. Often when people spend too much time at their screen, time can pass by without knowing and then the opportunity to do essential tasks has passed at the cost of sitting at a screen. Prioritising such tasks before using a device is a crucial step in ensuring that this doesn’t happen.

This may be particularly difficult if the necessary task is also one that is less enjoyable, is difficult, or boring. In this case, you can use your screen time to your benefit. See it as a reward for having completed the necessary task. This will help to motivate you to get the through the task however undesirable it is.

In sha Allah, at least one of these approaches to reducing you screen time will help at least to some level on overcoming procrastination. It may take some trial and error to figure out which approach works best for you but with persistence, in sha Allah you will find your perfect match and be able to reduce your screen time to an acceptable level that doesn’t impact in an unhealthy way on other aspects of your daily life.

As for procrastination on a more general level, there are some additional techniques to try.Prioritize important and essential tasks. These are the tasks that will cause most stress if they don’t get done so ensure they are out of the way first to reduce the psychological arousal that comes with knowing that there are important tasks to complete. This will reduce your arousal and make it much easier to move onto less demanding tasks. That said, you may find that it is necessary sometimes to instead to a quick and easy task first just to get the motivation and flow going first before moving onto the big and important tasks.

Break tasks down into small and manageable chunks. Often we procrastinate when a task seems so large that one doesn’t know how to tackle it or even where to start.

Get help if needed. Sometimes if a task is beyond our understanding, we procrastinate to avoid the feelings of self doubt that come with facing the task. This often occurs when it comes to academic tasks and is a common reason for Kate submission of homework when students leave it until last minute!

Ask for help from your teacher or peers if this is the case. If the task is a more practical tasks, again, do ask for help, but more instrumentally in this case. So, for example, if it is a cleaning task, ask for someone to also help you with the task to lessen the burden solely on you. This can also be helpful if your reason for procrastination is due to the associated boredom. Getting the help of someone else will mean having someone else in your company and will make the task more enjoyable.

Reduce distractions. This one is particularly of use to you with regards to screen time addressed above. Its a lot easier to procrastinate when there are distractions, such as screens around. This is especially the case when it comes to tasks that require focus. In such cases, do the task at hand in a quiet environment away from both audio and visual distractions. Turn your phone off and sit with the task at hand.

Just do it! Sometimes it just takes to engage in the task for a minute to get started and do the task. Sit down and start the task even if you really really don’t want to do it. Often it is just making this initial step that can beat procrastination and get one moving. As a small task is achieved, one becomes motivated to move onto the next and the next and this sense of achievement is experienced at the end.

May Allah help you to implement some of these things into your daily life to help you overcome procrastination and decrease your screen time to a more healthy level. May He reward your efforts to bring a more healthy routine into your lifestyle.

Question 3

Male, 17

I did yoga. And now I’m getting the feeling that everything is god or such that. May have done spiritual ecastacy. How to come back to normal?

Assalamu alaikum wa rahmatulahi wa barakatuh,

It is argued by some scholars that yoga is haram and perhaps the reasons behind this are due to those that you are experiencing now. However, the good news for you is that you recognise that you have a problem and its affecting your deen and you have reached out for support. In sha Allah this puts you in a very strong position to overcome this difficulty.

Whether yoga truly is haram or not, you are experiencing some negative side effects so the first thing to do is refrain from attending again, or anything similar. Seek forgiveness from Allah and in sha Allah, along with you refraining from taking part again He will forgive you.

Continue to ask Him as you move forward in replacing whatever your sought to get from yoga in a more acceptable way to show Him that you are doing your level best not to be sucked into it again.

You probably had a reason to do yoga in the first place so you may begin by going back to this reason and replacing it with something better. For example, if it was for exercise, then seek to get your exercise in other ways that are definitely not haram. Do this exercise with other people so that you always have someone to motivate you to keep at the task in a way that is acceptable.

If it was bad friends that encouraged you to do yoga then avoid spending time with them and instead be with those who will encourage you to do good. Even of this wasn’t the case, being with good, Allah fearing people is a good way to get back to ‘normal’ again. Good people like this will encourage you to get close to Allah by encouraging you to join congregational prayer and so on. These are tasks that will take you away from the state you are in and back to the path of worshipping Allah in the correct way.

Even if you don’t want to be around people as such, just being in the masjid or engaged in other acts of worship at home will help to break you free from your current distressing state. There are many many ways in which you can help yourself here.Increase your voluntary acts of worship. Fast more, reading more pages of the Qur’an each day, make dhikr, prayer voluntary prayers. Do this gradually so as not to become too overwhelmed that may cause you to give up.

Remember Allah at all times by making all the relevant duas throughout the day when doing tasks such as eating or going to the toilet and so on.

Continue to repel Shaytān by seeking refuge with Allah

Continue to ask for Allah’s forgiveness, especially during the times when we know such duas are answered such as in the last third of the night.

Remember your morning and evening adhkar as a means of protection day and night.

Busy yourself with meaningful tasks at all times

In sha Allah, engaging with at least some of these will help to set you back on the correct path. Of course, nothing can be done without the will of Allah so continue to take the matter to Him and ask for His guidance.

May Allah keep you strong against misguidance and may He make your journey back to Him and easy and pleasurable one for His sake. May He reward your efforts to please Him.

Question 4

Female, 50

I am a 50 yr old woman with two older brothers. I have never married, no children, and most of the responsibility for my parents is on my shoulders, although I live separate from them (I live a few minutes away by car). I also have a full-time job so I am financially independent. 

I have always wanted a husband and children. I wanted children and a family of my own so badly! I am a virgin and very chaste.  I used to ask my parents a lot to help me get married, but I guess in the west they found it very difficult to look for a spouse for me, and my brothers were never interested.  Of course, my parents are too old now to help me with anything. 

Now at age 50, I still yearn for marriage, sex, love, and a different life.  I know that soon, my father will die and my mother will have to live with me full-time, and it scares me a lot because she’s not easy , and both my parents have medical needs.  I have prayed enormously for a spouse partly because I yearn for that type of love and caring, and also so that I don’t have to live with my parents – at that point my brothers will have no choice but to “take over”. 

I am trying my best to accept my situation, but even after having prayed so ardently my entire adult life, I can’t seem to find comfort in the thought that my current situation is what Allah SWT has ordained for me.  I want more.   I want someone to take care of me for a change – I know that sounds selfish, but I can’t help it.  I know that it is almost impossible for chaste muslim women my age to get married, indeed after age 35 it is almost impossible for muslim women to get married, but I have always believed that Allah will bring a miracle into my life.  

I have tried online matchmaking and there are very few men who show an interest in me.  REcently, I did communicate with one man who I was interested in, but he decided to end our communications.  I find myself thinking about him often and making dua that he changes his mind and calls me again.  I know that this “fixation” is due to my current life situation and my desire to experience love, companionship and passion with a man who will cherish me. 

How do I get past this?  I thought I had been slowly inching toward acceptance until I started communicating with this man.  For my own sanity and mental health, I need to “accept” but it hurts and it makes me sad.  Please also know that I am always making dua, praying nafl and lots of dhikr for Allah to ease the suffering in my heart.

Wa alaikum salaam wa rahmatulahi wa barakatuh sister,

Your situation is heartbreaking and you are not selfish at all for wanting to find a spouse! Allah would not have recommended marriage and termed it ‘half your Deen’ and mentioned the comforts of marriage in the Qur’an of it was not something to desire wholeheartedly.

With this in mind, resigning yourself to accept that it could never happen doesn’t have to be the case. You know yourself that the best way forward is to make dua and pray for it with patience so certainly you are on the right track in this respect. However, understandably at the age of 50, you are starting to lose hope in the possibility at this stage.

Although, do also realise that this is a problem even for the younger sisters too. Lots of sisters even at a younger age struggle to find a spouse,even those who have never been married before so you are not alone in your struggle. However, I understand that this doesn’t take away the difficulties that you face personally, or make it any easier for you and it is a normal response to feel downhearted at this point.

However, don’t let this be the thing that makes you feel like giving up. There is always hope. Certainly continue making your dua for the situation and in sha Allah when the time is right, Allah will reward you in the best of ways. In addition, continue to take a proactive approach moving forward. Continue with the online matchmaking if this suits you, but also look to alternate means also. This may mean searching outside the box.

Perhaps you had set limits with regards to location. Try opening the doors to other opportunities if you feel able to, even if it means moving to another area or another country. It’s often easy to get stuck in a pattern that we forget to try other things and be open to something different. Do at least give this a thought even if you don’t go through with it.

You might also take the matter to your family, back to your parents and brothers and really get serious with them that you need their support in seeking a spouse. Likewise with your friends. Ask them to ask around for you. You might even try other online sources such as joining sisters groups online and asking them if they know anyone looking for a spouse who would be suitable.

This takes you away from the usual circles that you are searching in and may open other opportunities that have otherwise been unexplored. Otherwise, turn to the local masjid, or even other masjids within the country and ask if there is any man seeking a spouse that meets your criteria.

In the mean time, do try to meet the needs you desire to have met as much as you can within acceptable limits so that you are not left feeling too empty for now. You can get similar such comforts from being with Allah and really talking to Him about your situation and begging Him for His mercies. Similarly, being with other good friends who will be able to provide you with some level of comfort and support at this time.

Whilst not the same type or level of support that a spouse can provide you with, it will satisfy your needs to at least some extent. Additionally, engaging in things that you enjoy doing and bring you a sense of achievement will also help to ease the situation too.

Essentially, make sure to get as much comfort as you can from other sources whilst continuing as you have been with regards to turning to Allah whilst continuing to pursue the same active routes to finding a spouse at the same time as trying new avenues also. In sha Allah this will open your doors to opportunities and the spouse that you have been so patiently awaiting.

May Allah reward you for remaining steadfast during these testing times. May He keep you strong and reward your efforts with something better than you ever imagined.

Monday, Jul. 12, 2021 | 10:00 - 11:00 GMT

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Views expressed by hosts/guests on this program (live dialogue, Facebook sessions, etc.) are their own and their appearance on the program does not imply an endorsement of them or any entity they represent.