It was reported by Usamah bin Shareek regarding the treatment of diseases that, “I was with the Prophet (SAW) and Arabs came to him asking, ‘O, Messenger of Allah. Do we take medicine for treatment?’ He said, ‘Yes, Oh you, the servants of Allah, take medicine, as Allah Almighty has not created a disease without having created a cure for it except one disease.’ They asked, ‘What is it?’ He said, ‘Old age.'”
In another saying, the Prophet said, “Allah never inflicts a disease without providing a cure; only those who were aware of it knew it, whereas those who were not aware, were ignorant of it.“
Nowhere is this truer than in the case of depression. Depression is known as “the common cold” of mental illness, and its cures are just as numerous as those for the common cold.
In fact, with so many ways to alleviate depression, it is amazing that there are still more than ten million adults being treated for it annually.
Depression attacks the rich and the poor, the famous and the not well known. Abraham Lincoln and Winston Churchill are among famous individuals that were treated for depression as well as many movie stars.
An occasional depressive day is normal; however, many people suffer from chronic depression – largely, because they are not aware of what is actually causing their suffering.
Misconceptions & Reality
To a great extent, many still believe that depression is a “bad feeling caused by a bad event” so instead of looking for other causes, they look to blame an event for their misery.
Of course, anyone looking for reasons for their misery will find plenty in life; therefore, rather than explore all avenues for its causes so as to determine the best cure, they will often stop short when they find the “suitable reason” (e.g., their big nose, their husband, wife, job or a life event).
Another even more modern idea is that depression is caused by brain dysfunction and is only curable by certain medicines that help the brain to work better.
Some scientists are even searching for a gene that can be held responsible for susceptibility to depressive disorders.
Actually, the brain is largely to blame for depression; however, most dysfunctions can be readily cured with natural therapies.
And if more people were aware of some of the simple causes (and cures) of depression, more people could be cured. Some of the cures are as simple as drinking more water or sitting in the sun.
In many cases of severe clinical depression, a medicine can act as a catalyst to bring a person back to a point where they are able to manage their lifestyle and diet better. Therefore, in some cases, medication is necessary.
However, before anyone decides to follow a (often lifelong) path of medication, they should try at least some natural cures first. Natural remedies are inexpensive (often free), and often so obvious and easy that we overlook them.
The first step, though, in treating any illness is to determine its source. The same is true for depression.
Typically, depression is wrongly associated with depressing “events,” but there is no logical or scientific evidence that stressful or sad events have much to do with depression – other than providing a “reason” to an already vulnerable person.
Two people could experience the same life event, leaving one depressed and the other indifferent. Often, when a family loses someone through death, some of its members may go through a period of sadness and mourning while one member may remain depressed for years afterwards.
This is because depression has physical, mental, and spiritual aspects. One cannot say that it is caused purely by outside forces.
Spiritual Cure of Islam
Concerning its spiritual causes, The Medicine of the Prophet says, “It is common knowledge among religious scholars that sins beget worries, fear, sadness, depression, and heart ailments.”
Many Muslims going through spiritual crises may feel depressed because of “sins” they perceive themselves as having committed or perhaps just witnessed in our modern world.
Drinking, watching violence and sex on television, smoking, berating or beating one’s children or spouse, skipping prayers due to our hectic schedules, or dressing inappropriately may all make a Muslim feel bad spiritually, which often results in worsened physical health and depression.
Diet can also play a large role in depression. In the recently popular book Your Body’s Many Cries for Water, Dr. F. Batmanghelidj, MD (from Iran), notes that chronic dehydration can often cause depression and that the addition of a few more glasses of water a day can often lift the blues in a chronically depressed person.
Larry Christianson, Ph.D., says that food can affect mood as well. “Studies have shown that for some, food can cause depression… What you eat can lift your mood, or if you make the wrong choices, sink it. Moreover, what you don’t eat can have as great of an impact as what you do.”
There are a number of nutrients such as Vitamins B and C and selenium that convert amino acids from our food into neurotransmitters.
“It’s quite clear that even borderline nutrient deficiencies can lead to depression,.” says Melvyn Werback, MD and author of Healing through Nutrition. A lack of sleep and a disconnection with the natural environment have also been implicated in depression.
While it is true that depression can occur after a sad or unhappy event, many people don’t experience depression following such occasions; rather, they have a healthier grieving and recovery.
Thus, the mental aspects of depression have more to do with a person’s perceptions and skills for dealing with adversity than with the actual adversity itself (refer to our other articles under temperaments and depression).
Depression often occurs in people who are also experiencing spiritual struggle, dietary deficiencies, and/or generally unhealthy lifestyles.
Steps of Curing
“Virtually any nutrient can result in depression,” writes Michael T. Murray in Encyclopedia of Natural Healing. He lists a table of some nutrients and the results of their deficiencies.
Thiamin, niacin, and Vitamin B12 are very important in helping the body to cope with stress and depression.
A short supply of serotonin can equal insomnia and food cravings while a high level of serotonin can impart feelings of calm and well being, says Elizabeth Somer, R.D., author of Food and Mood and Nutrition for Women.
Increasing one’s folic acid can raise serotonin levels while taking oral contraceptives or HRT therapy can lower adequate levels of B6 to a deficiency level.
Coffee and sugar have also been known to cause depression in regular users because they give a quick “buzz” after their consumption that quickly dissipates, causing an imbalance in a person’s perception of their mood and their energy levels.
Regular swings between low and high moods can cause an underlying feeling of depression. They also leach minerals and vitamins out of the system – especially the B vitamins and folic acid.
Even some of the drugs that are used to treat depression can actually worsen it over time by depleting the B Vitamins. Cigarettes, corticosteroids, and beta-blockers can create depression by depleting Vitamins B and C from the body.
This causes a vicious cycle as it generally results in higher and higher doses of the medicine, creating a greater and greater need for these nutrients.
Depression can also be a side effect of other disorders such as hypoglycemia, low thyroid function, low adrenal function, allergies (particularly environmental allergies), candida, or hormonal imbalances.
Just as the causes of depression can be physical, mental, and/or spiritual, natural cures to treat it fall into those categories as well. See this week’s article on “Natural Cures for Depression.”
This article was first published in 2003 and is currently for its importance.