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How to Deal with a Depressed Friend

Posted on Sep 26, 2014 by in Articles, Wellbeing | 3 comments


Everybody experiences various levels of depression as a reaction to life stressors found in work environments, family life, and financial situations. Most people feel that depression is defined as this short reaction to the stressors that most people easily overcome. Thus, they believe it is insignificant. But, these instances of reactions to stressors is not classified as clinical depression.

Clinical depression is defined as a mood disorder in which feelings of sadness, loss, anger, or frustration interfere with everyday life for a longer period of time (Google definition). The unawareness of the general public about depression has resulted in many people suffering from this disorder failing to seek help. This is magnified in shame-based societies. Middle-Eastern communities are an example of a shame-based society, hence depression is hidden and overlooked in order to save “face” of the family.

Sometimes people that we know and care about might be depressed. There are many symptoms or tell-tale signs of clinical depression that we should be aware of. The following is a list of symptoms:

  • Uncharacteristically sad, down, or “empty”
  • Losing interest in activities that were once a source of pleasure
  • Feeling hopeless, worthless, or both
  • Feeling irritable or restless; becomes forgetful and disorganised
  • Changes in appetite, and losing or gaining weight unintentionally
  • Sleeping poorly or oversleeping
  • Feeling tired or having less energy
  • Having persistent feelings of guilt
  • Having trouble thinking, concentrating, or making decisions
  • Decreased capability and performance
  • Having thoughts of suicide
  • Abusing alcohol or drugs
  • Exhibits a pessimistic outlook on life
  • Constantly complains of aches and pains

Remember, a depressed person might not exhibit all of these symptoms. Usually a depressed person does not even realise that he is depressed. Then, if they do realise, many are ashamed to get help; they think that they should be able to get over it themselves. Therefore, seeking professional help is a must. But, in addition to professional help, a family member or close friend of the depressed can do the following things:

  • Talk to the person: tell them that you can see they’re down. Therefore, pretending like nothing is wrong is not a solution and can make the situation worse.
  • Listen with empathy; try to put yourself in their shoes, try to feel what they are feeling without judging them. Do not joke about their problem, or tell them simply: “Just be happy, dude!” “Lighten up brother.”
  • Express your willingness to help: sometimes just knowing that people are there for you will help you get over many issues that you are facing. Along these lines, reminding them that Allah is always there as the best support.
  • Suggest and support the person to see a professional psychologist
  • Encourage the person to get enough sleep, exercise, and eat healthy food
  • Help the person decrease alcohol and drug consumption; unfortunately drugs and alcohol have a worse effect on one who is depressed
  • Encourage friends and family members to stay in touch with him and take him out
  • Most importantly: Be Patient; depression is slow and unpredictable. It can be extremely frustrating when dealing with someone who is depressed. Do not show the person that you are angry; give them space when they need it; but always be there for them when they call. Be careful not to push too hard or constantly analyse them.
  • Finally: take care of yourself; you need to be in a good state spiritually, mentally, emotionally, and physically to deal with someone facing depression.

By: Shaykh Hamid Waqar


  1. Salaam, nice article and it’s an issue that seems to be facing communities in a big way.
    Just one point when you recommend getting professional help isn’t it possible that ‘professional’ help i.e psychiatrist may not actually help the person especially if that person is a believer. The subject of psychiatry seems to be based on a faithless foundation that assumes man is no more than a material being thus any problems can be solved by material things. To be fair though they do see people as multi faceted in as so much as they are composed of a mind and body and while I don’t know how they see the mind, it seems as it’s treated at least by many as in a not just material way. The point that I wanted to allude to is that there doesn’t seem to be a place for the soul in modern psychiatry and that being the case then they will never truly be able to treat any person. Also because of this current faithless perspective it seems, from first hand reports, that some of the advice given is in clear contrition to the faith and this not only doesn’t help the patient but actually makes the situation and problem much worse.

    • Salaams, although I do not completely agree with your point, it is valid nonetheless. The reason I don’t agree completely is because, although there are many aspects of psychology that is opposed to Islamic principles, there is also quite a bit that is agreeable with Islamic principles. It would be quite possible for a psychologist to treat depression without advising the client to do anything which would oppose his faith. That being said, what I meant by professional is one who is competent in treating the disease without stepping outside of the boundaries of Islam. Thank you for clarifying this point which was left out of the article.

  2. Depression is a chemical imbalance in the brain that could be triggered by environmental perceived stressors or it could simply just happen. A lot of depression is diet related and I advise people who experience sudden unexplained episodes of depression to try and eliminate wheat, grains and dairy products from their diets and see how they feel. Effect should take place in a matter of few days to weeks.

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