How Ramadan is a Therapy For Depression

3- Prayer and Dua

We often think of dua as a means of gaining something we desire. We ask Allah for money and wait for it to come. But the fact is, dua itself is a rewarding experience. It’s a powerful mood-booster. Just like reading the Quran, there’s something inherent inside us that feels satisfaction in dua, and also in prayer and dhikr. Allah says:

Unquestionably, by the remembrance of Allah hearts are assured. (13:28)

The same goes for prayer. Prayer was a blissful experience for the Prophet, so much so that he said that in it is:

“…the coolness of my eyes”. (Nasa’i 3940)

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Even non-Muslim researchers acknowledge this fact. “We shouldn’t ignore the one ‘ultimate’ supportive relationship for many religious individuals, and that is their relationship with God,” says Sonja Lyubomirsky, a well-known positive psychologist.

“This relationship is not only a source of comfort in troubled times but a source of self-esteem, the feeling of being unconditionally valued, loved and cared for. Those of you who feel this way have a sense of security that others only wish for…

Second, your sense that God has a purpose in everything helps you find meaning in ordinary life events, as well as traumatic ones.” (Lyubomirsky 240)

This last point is beautifully stated in the following hadith:

I am amazed at the believer. Indeed, Allah doesn’t decree anything for the believer except that it is good for him. (Ahmad 12495)

4- Companionship, Feeling of Belonging to an Ummah

One of the most satisfying feelings I experienced during and after Hajj was the sense of belonging. When you see like-minded people all around you sharing the same goal, you can’t help feeling elated.

This sense of being part of a big ummah stayed with me a long time afterwards, and it was one of the key factors in helping me deal with an emotional shock I received around that time.

Dr. Sonja Lyubomirsky says:

“The centrality of social connections to our health and well-being cannot be over-stressed. ‘Relationships constitute the single most important factor responsible for the survival of homo sapiens,’ writes one social psychologist.

I don’t think this is an overstatement. One of the strongest findings in the literature on happiness is that happy people have better relationships than their less happy pears.” (123)

Dr. Sonja even highlights the social benefits of practicing religion:

“Members share not only the basic assumptions and beliefs inherent in their religion, but important political and social values. This fact not only enables one-to-one social, emotional and material support, but it also creates a sense of community among the members of the church, synagogue or mosque, leading people to feel appreciated, respected and provided for.

This sense reinforces your identity and affirms your lifestyle. After all, it feels good when people whom you respect and admire share similar roles and values and your approach to daily life.” (239)

Conclusion

Depression is very painful and discouraging. Since it is a mental issue, you can’t make most people, sometimes even yourself, understand your condition, and that increases your feelings of guilt when you see others praying twenty rakahs of tarawih, while you’re struggling to summon enough energy to perform the daily prayers.

Don’t let guilt paralyze you. Be lenient with yourself, focus on protecting the obligatory deeds, do the best you can, and reap the benefits of this blessed month in alleviating your pain.

References:

Fond G., Macgregor A., Leboyer M., Michalsen A. Fasting in mood disorders: Neurobiology and effectiveness. A review of the literature. 2013 Psychiatry Research, 209 (3), pp. 253-258.

Lyubomirsky, Sonja. The How of Happiness. Piatkus: London, 2007.

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