Q&A: Depression


Wednesday, 10 June 2009 10:11

Question: I am very wealthy and have all the comforts and luxuries I desire. My problem is that I am never really happy. Most of the time I feel miserable and depressed, yet there is no apparent reason for feeling like this. I return from five star holidays feeling worse than when I left. My condition is now leading to frustration for me and my family. I am regular with my Salaah, etc. Please advise. (Summary of detailed question)

Answer: May Allah Ta`ala remove your difficulties and grant you the true happiness of this world and the Hereafter. Aameen.

The condition you are experiencing could be due to a combination of various factors. This answer only deals briefly with what appears to be the root cause of your problem in the light of what you have mentioned. (If your problem is medically related, you should consult a doctor).

You may understand your problem by considering the example of a child. A child attaches his heart to his toy car, or the sand castle that he has built, or to any other such insignificant item. For the child this is his entire world. If his toy gets scratched or a sea shell flies off from his castle, he feels as if his world is crumbling. Even if nothing happens to his toys, he still becomes bored with it after a few days. Such boredom is bound to creep in when the heart has been attached to any perishable thing. Nevertheless, he then yearns for something else. In the interim he feels very “low” and miserable. When he manages to get something new, it puts him on an artificial “high” for a short period. The same cycle then continues. 



Similarly many of us do not really grow out of childhood. A child plays with small little cars and sand castles. Many grown-ups play with fast, flashy cars and castles of bricks and cement. They do not grow up to the reality that the purpose of life is not play and amusement. They do not mature to the realization that the material things are merely for use within the boundaries of Deen – not for giving one’s heart to it. Hence like the child, due to our hearts being attached to the perishable items, we also experience the “lows” as we get bored with the things we have. 

On the contrary, consider those who have attached their hearts to Allah Ta`ala. For fifty years they are performing the same salaah, reciting the same Qur’aan, daily engage in the same zikr and continue to strive for Deen. They never get bored. Rather, with each new day their enthusiasm increases for performing salaah, reciting Qur’aan, striving for Deen and engaging in other virtuous deeds. Similarly, their lives become happier and more content all the time, despite the physical difficulties and other worldly problems. This is due to them having attached their hearts to Allah Ta`ala, the Ever Living and the Creator of all happiness. Like all humans they also experience pain at times. Yet even in pain they do not feel “low.” We also need to attach our hearts to Allah Ta`ala. We will then experience the same continuously increasing happiness like the pious servants of Allah Ta`ala. 



Another aspect that results in feeling depressed is to focus on what others have been blessed with. Rasulullah r warned against this when he said: “Look at those who have lesser than you and do not look at those who have more than you. This is more likely to prevent you from looking down upon the bounties that Allah Ta`ala has blessed you with.” It is a common malady to look at what “better” things others have. One is then consumed with the desire of also having the same. If one cannot have the same, one feels depressed. Therefore, instead of looking at what others have, one should count the millions of favours that Allah Ta`ala has showered upon one, many of which others have not been blessed with. The more we truly engage in shukr (gratitude) to Allah Ta’ala, the lesser we will feel miserable and depressed. 

Thus the real prescription for happiness is to attach one’s heart to Allah Ta`ala and become His true servant. This is acquired by associating with the true lovers of Allah Ta`ala and following in their footsteps. Otherwise, we will continue to ride the roller coaster of emotions but never taste any happiness.