Feeling chronic sadness, empty, worthless, teary, and having recurring thoughts of self-harm all the time, every time and not knowing exactly why you feel these emotions are significant signs of Depression.
Depression is now categorised as a disease and can exist by itself in different combinations such as Post Natal Depression (affecting new mothers), Bipolar Disorder (periods of major happiness and major sadness), Dysthymia (mild, chronic sadness existing for at least two years) and Seasonal Affective Disorder or SAD (affects people during shorter, darker months in autumn and winter), to name a few.
Is feeling sad the same as being depressed? No. Not really.
Signs and symptoms of depression often go unnoticed because our society expects people to “suck it up and keep fighting.” There are stigma and shame associated with anyone showing vulnerability in acknowledging weakness. The fact of the matter is that we are all blessed with strengths and weaknesses.
Sometimes, some people dwell on their weaknesses for too long and develop a mindset of feeling worthless. This feeling brings deep sadness, tearfulness and eventually begin to entertain thoughts and sometimes specific plans of self-harm.
Physically, the body responds to these symptoms in the following way:
- Loss of appetite or sometimes increased appetite (emotional eating)
- Insomnia, or, for some people, too much sleep
- Loss of energy – Fatigue
- Inappropriate guilt – recurring thoughts of “It’s my fault”
- Confusion, inability to make decisions – recurring thoughts of “I don’t know what to do”
- Isolation, often remaining alone in one part of the house for too long, such as extended hours in the bedroom or extended hours on the balcony watching out into space
- Lack of physical movements – always preferring to lie down or sit for extended hours, or mindlessly watch TV or scroll on the device, not really engaging
- Lack of interest or pleasure in any activity
- Inability to find joy in any situation – recurring thoughts of “Why is it always so hard for me?”
It is possible to overcome depression. It must start with small steps of self-kindness when practicing the following strategies:
- Obtain a full blood test and seeking help from GP to diagnose any thyroid dysfunction, vitamin and mineral deficiencies, and hormone tests.
- Find a person you can confide in without fear of being judged (counsellor/ psychologist/ therapist) and talk to that person to process your feelings to heal
- At least 30 minutes to 1 hour of physical activity daily – walking in nature, swimming, dancing, cycling
- Cognitive behavioural changes (becoming mindful of changing thoughts that don’t serve you to thoughts that do serve you) – positive reframing
- Silence for 5-10 minutes daily, preferably after Fajr or Isha salah, focussing only on your breath
- Dhikr of Allah – moisten your tongue with the dhikr of Allah as much as possible
- Journaling out your feelings
- Tell yourself this positive affirmation:“Every day in every way, I am better and better. Thank you, Allah.”
- Guided Duaa Meditation. The following are two guided duaa meditations that I often use with my clients.