The Holy Month of Ramadan

Ramadan represents the goodness, grace and the entire blessings of Allah.

Shia Wisdom

Once again the Holy Month of Ramadan is upon us and Muslims around the globe will enter a spiritual journey toward their creator by fasting and devoting an entire month to whatever gratifies their Almighty Lord. The 185th verse of Quran’s 2nd chapter states: “The month of Ramadan, in which the Quran was revealed. A guidance for people and clear proof of guidance and criterion.”

The entire month of Ramadan has been defined and labeled as month of guidance, as the blessings of Allah are poured on his subjects around the clock. During this month, any movement, action, deed, hint or even good intention of a believer is rewarded with blessings and considered as worship. The Holy Month of Ramadan equalizes the sense of need among all believer, regardless of their social and economic class. Whether poor or wealthy, elite or random citizen, men or women, everyone will experience the pain and sufferings of those less fortunate. Continue reading The Holy Month of Ramadan

Terror in Baghdad


The continuous bloodshed and ravished life in Iraq


It is heartbreaking that not long ago the world mourned the innocent lives of Belgium terrorist attacks and Paris, where Daesh claimed responsibility for, yet today a new wound has been added to the devitalized body of Iraq. Yesterday the Iraqi Capital witnessed a series of terrorist acts against innocent civilians in crowded sites and markets, where dozens of people mostly women and children lost their lives. The pictures being circulated from after the attacks are devastating and heartbreaking and the amount of innocent children with severe wounds or ravished corps would only translates the horror and pain a parent would have to experience.

According to early statements by Iraqi interior ministry, the cars carrying the explosives and terrorists were entered to the area with official badges, license plates and uniforms belonging to the ministry. This statement only shows the incompetency of Iraq’s political and bureaucratic elites in diminishing corruption and favoritism that has costed Iraq thousands of innocent lives and billions of dollars. In addition, the continuous failures of Iraq’s ruling elites to establish healthy, transparent and strong infrastructure and steady service of basic necessities is beyond apprehension. Meanwhile, the international community must place enormous pressure on the Iraqi government to implement influential and actual steps toward crushing and diminishing corruption and favoritism in Iraq. The massive flow of suspicious transactions, the normality of bribe and bribery in government’s institutions and infiltrated security agencies must be the priority of any Iraqi government.

Shia Wisdom urges the respected religious authority in Iraq, illustrated in Grand Ayatollah Sayed Ali Al-Sistani, the Iraqi people and all conscience and patriots of Iraq to form a unified front that supports drastic change and reform through peaceful means. The past months and weeks have shown the Iraqi masses are capable of change and reform, yet they need to be cautious for any political entity that might use their march and movement for own interests.

Shia Wisdom and staff offer their sincere condolences to the families of all those fallen in the terrorist attacks of Baghdad, asking the almighty to grant them patience and tranquility and gives mercy to the victims.

Shia Wisdom  

Challenging the traditions

Mainstream Islam & legacy of violence against minorities

By: Hussein Al-Rumaithi
Majority of observers, researchers, activists and writers have accused the Saudi regime sponsored Wahhabi sect for the contemporary phenomenon of terrorism and use of violent methods. Although, the Saudi family and their Wahhabi branch is responsible for some the most horrific crimes against humanity and free will, yet the root of these actions and ideologies was only capitalized and implemented by Wahhabism. The ideological implementations of Ibn Taymiya and other scholars within this sect are derived from earlier and traditional texts, where minorities like Sufis, Shias, Jews, Mutazilies and others were subjected to ideological and physical elimination.
Throughout previous articles the foundation of a violent trails of actions, statements and decisions was identified in the early post-Prophet Mohammad era, where certain companions carried out terrorizing acts. In addition, other decisions by the first three Caliphs and later on by the Umayyad and Abbasids became the preliminary bases for any ideological theorizing and legitimizing use of violence and force. Therefore, the early stage of Islamic history and the horrific crimes against minorities, the holy household of Prophet Mohammad and Islam itself, were only actions or organized efforts by individuals and groups to gain influence and control. However, the actions of this mentioned era was used by later scholars as mean of general ruling and fatwa extraditing tools and methods.
Early stages of theorizing violence
The early stages of legitimizing use of violence was primarily for political purposes according to many historical findings, since most scholars of those eras were linked and affiliated with political dynasties of the time. For instance the most direct and clear indication of violence legitimization is witnessed during the Seljuk dynasty and its famous Vazir Nizam Al-Mulk, who is the founder of Nizamiya School in Baghdad.
This man is considered a very wise, just, trustworthy and eloquent individual, who counseled the Seljuk king and ultimately wrote a book exhorting kings about the methods of governance and leadership. The book is named ‘Siyasat Nameh’ and has several chapters categorizing the priorities, responsibilities and governance methods for any ruler or king, which urges some historian to think that Siyasat Nameh was a book for the elites only. Regardless, the author of this book launched and initiated a systematic and planned elimination of Shia Muslims inside Iraq and other places, by alerting the king about the danger of leaving Shias alone. Nizam Al-Mulk suggests that Shia Muslims are an element of instability and chaos, and prevailing stability and headache-less rule is achieved by eliminating those rouge elements, alongside other minorities like the Esoteric sects.
The trails of Nizam Al-Mulk and his influence is transferred to individuals effected by him and his political rationale. The use of religious rationalization for political gain is later capitalized and implemented by scholars like Abu Hamed Al-Ghazali, who is considered among the greatest scholars of Sunni Islam. The affiliation of this scholar with the political entity of that time, forced him to develop a religious fundamental for eliminating oppositions and any group of minorities that were considered dangerous. Therefore, sources indicate that Al-Ghazali legitimized and set the foundation for physical elimination and total abandonment of entire groups and sects, in the name of guarding the Islamic Empire and nation.
Unfortunately, the theological rationales of such individuals was used to wage war against dynasties and groups, under the pretense of being an infidel, esoteric, Shia, non-believer, apostate or blasphemers. Saladin Al-Ayoubi used the work of Nizam Al-Mulk and Al-Ghazali and their likes to legitimize his crimes against the Shias of Egypt and other minorities under his rule. Therefore, although radical scholars like Ibn Taymiya were always condemned and challenged by other Sunni scholars, yet the traditional sources and texts of this school is filled with legitimization of hate, violence and use of force against other groups. It might be right to argue that Wahhabism and its famous scholar Ibn Taymiya and Mohammad Ibn Abdul Wahhab have placed the entire world as their nemesis, due to difference in ideology, yet what is considered mainstream Islam is filled with similar claims as well.
Fortunately, the recent years have presented several individuals with a tendency to come in Public and denounce the content of these traditional sources, which are considered as sacred and worthy of being taught. Several Arab and Muslims channels have aired debates and panels with scholars from numerous schools of thought challenging one another upon the substance of those books and their hateful ideology. Although the trend of such challenges is slow and require more time and additional cleansed resources, and alongside the challenge a healthy and complete alternative is require as well. Once contemporary free-minds and Muslim scholars start to question and challenge the content so these books, they must begin to seek answers and alternatives, as they will have to reassess the entire foundation of what is considered mainstream Islam.

History adds another Black page

Genocide in Taza (Iraq)
Shia Wisdom

There are numerous dates and events in history’s calendar that will make any human wonder about the viciousness, ruthlessness and barbarism of certain individuals and groups. Unfortunately, these dates mark what the contemporary world considers as (GENOCIDES). The Darfur genocides, the holocaust genocides, the Congo genocides, the Northern Iraqi city (Halabcha) genocide and many others that are a shameful chapter in humanity’s history.
Recently the world was alerted about a new genocide, which took place in Iraq to add to the daily atrocities this country has suffered from for a long time. A small town near Iraq northern city of Kirkuk name ‘Taza’ was subjected to chemical attacks by ISIS, where reports have indicated thousands including women and children are among the dead. The majority of this town’s residents were Shia Muslims, who are considered as infidels and non-believers by ISIS and other Wahhabi groups. In addition, other minorities like the Yazidis and Christians of this town have been reported to be among the victims of this horrific genocide. Earlier, the US state department considered the crime a ‘genocide’ and a crime against humanity, where the secretary called for international legal institutions to investigate the details and trails of this horrendous act.
As mentioned in previous articles and statements by Shia Wisdom, the notion of terrorism will never be beaten by only launching airstrike campaigns and sending possible ground troops. The ideological pool of hatred and fundamentalism these groups are feeding from must be dried and prevented. In addition, all states, groups and individuals who have supported these terrorist groups by any mean (Financial, recruitment, ideology, cyber support and etc.) must be held accountable and persecuted to the full extent of law.
Shia Wisdom and staff send their prayers for the victims and their families, hoping the almighty lord will grant patience and serenity to them and may he bless the souls of all those who have fallen.

Products ingredients & Islamic laws

By: Hussein Al-Rumaithi

One of the ongoing problems for majority of Muslims living in the west, is the issue of ingredients of products consumed during everyday life, as Muslims are obligated to assure these products don’t contain anything taken from animals or alcoholic ingredients.  It might seem that due to this obligation, Islam has placed a heavy burden on the shoulder of its followers, since majority of products in the west contain such ingredients, which means this law makes it hard for Muslims to live an easy life.

Quran’s 24th verse of chapter 80 states: “Then let mankind look (watch) his food”. The notion of watching the things that we eat goes beyond the physical aspects of human body, as every single product we consume has a certain effect and impact on our characteristics and personality as well. For instance, there are numerous narration by Prophet Mohammad about eating Fish only on Wednesdays or Fridays, or refraining from eating and drinking while in washroom. Other narrations by the Prophet, suggest eating Camel’s meat has spiritual and characteristics effects on humans, as Camel is known to be an honorable animal. It is known in Arabia and other places, where Camels are found, these animals are very private and secretive, when it comes to their private life, where they tend to hide from public, if they want to unite, they choose a place, where no one is able to see. Therefore, eating the meat of this animal is believed to increase this sense of a human’s behavior and characteristic.

Nonetheless, the responsibility to watch the ingredients of all products is linked to the physical aspect of human’s anatomy and his/her spiritual and behavioral characteristics. In addition, this obligation is a jurisprudential responsibility like any other notion during every day conducts, consumption, interactions and proceedings.

Ingredients produced from animal body

The consumption of any product that contains ingredients from animals is only prohibited and ruled as forbidden or what Islamic law calls ‘Haram’, when the animal was not slaughtered according to Islamic law. This notion obviously applies to the consumption of beef and lamb as well, which means Muslims are only allowed to consume the meat of an animal that was killed according to the Islamic rule. The notion of eating an animal that was killed according to the laws of Islamic jurisprudence is similar to the law followed by Jews, where they only eat kosher meat that was killed according to Jewish law. Therefore, if a product contains ingredients taken from animals killed according to Islamic law, the consumption of these products is totally legit, allowed and acceptable. In addition, it should be noted that any product, which contains ingredients taken from pork is completely prohibited and forbidden, as pork is one of the primary prohibited products in Islam.

The products that can contain ingredients taken from animals are:

  • Cheese (especially cheddar cheese products)
  • Chips (chips with cheddar cheese, beef, chicken, pork flavours)
  • Jellow
  • Gravy (Beef, Chicken, Pork)
  • Cereal Products
  • Salad Dressings
  • Juices
  • Milk Shakes & smoothies
  • Yogurts
  • Packaged and canned food
  • Marshmallow
  • Candies
  • Processed foods
  • Margarine and some pastries

Whether a Muslim, a vegan or someone, who is against any type of animal cruelty, the following ingredients are extracted from animals. However, some of these ingredients are taken from plans and vegetables, which will be the responsibility of the consumer to contact the producers and clarify the source of the ingredients.

  • Lard (This is an ingredients, which is fat taken from the abdomen of pigs)
  • Gelatin (a protein taken from bones, cartilage, tendons and skins of animals)
  • Glucose (animal tissues and fluids. However, some glucose are extracted from fruits)
  • Glycerides (Mono – Di, this ingredient is taken from animal fats and plants)
  • Lactylic Stearate (Salt of stearic acid)
  • Lecithin (Phospholipids, which can be taken from animal tissues, plants and egg yolks)
  • Lutein (Deep yellow coloring from marigolds or egg yolks)
  • Oleic Acid (Animal Tallow)
  • Pepsin (an enzyme taken from pigs stomachs)
  • Stearic Acid (Tallow and other animal fats or oils)
  • Suet (Hard white fats around the kidneys and loins of animals)
  • Tallow (solid fat from ships and cattle separated from membranous tissues)
  • Glycin (taken from Gelatin)
  • Cholic Acid (taken from beef)
  • Riboflavin (since the isolation of this ingredient is very expensive from milk, many producers take this ingredient from organisms, which can be from animals)

In addition, some producers use codes and numbers to disclose the ingredients used in their products, which also becomes the responsibility of consumers to contact producers and determine, whether the ingredients are taken from animal or not. As far as whip cream, frosting and similar products, some contain Vanilla extract, which is believed to contain alcoholic ingredients. Therefore, it would be best to contact the producer of Vanilla Extract and ask them about this matter as well.

The information provided in this article seem to be over whelming and ‘too much’, as some might think, but the benefit of living in the west lays in the ability of accessing the producers and them answering honestly. This issue is not exclusive to Muslims, as there are many individuals and groups, who refrain from any product that contains animalistic ingredients, which becomes the responsibility of all producers to be transparent about their products and their ingredients. Therefore, taking few minutes to contact the producers and making sure the products we consume are ‘Halal’ and legit will help us in many ways beyond our expectations.

Artificial Intelligence and the Quest for Better Drugs

Role of AI in Modern Medicine

By Ali Reza
The way researchers diagnose and treat diseases has changed over time—and it seems poised to change again. In fact, new experiments point to a possible use of artificial intelligence in the medical research field. If deployed properly, these AI units could effectively revolutionize the search for better, stronger, more effective medications.

The Way it Was

The search for drugs has not always been a particularly efficient one. Historically, as researchers have tried to diagnose and treat diseases, they have devoted their search to isolating the single mutation on a given gene that might have caused the problem. The problem with this approach is that the onset of a disease is typically triggered by more than just a single genetic variant. There is usually a complex array of factors in play—environmental issues, multi-gene interactions, demographics, and more.

That’s obviously a lot of information to synthesize, which is precisely why drug research has been so laborious, at times so slow and so ineffectual. Computers have never been up to the challenge of analyzing all of this information, either, because there is simply too much of it to fit within standard databases.

Rise of the Robots

Where traditional computing has failed, artificial intelligence may hold some answers. Artificial intelligence may make it possible to tease out interactions from more complex and far-reaching health data, perhaps even offering a quick way to sequence full genomes and ultimately gather more molecular information than ever.

But what exactly does all this mean? What it means, most promisingly, is that precision medicine may one day be a real possibility, not just a pipe dream—and we’ll have AI to thank for it. AI may lead to a world in which researchers can identify all of the unique characteristics that a person has that might lead to the onset of a certain disease, and also to potential avenues of precision treatment.

Practicing Precision

The concept of precision medicine is nothing new. It has long been a sort of Holy Grail among medicine researchers. Actually treating human beings in a precise manner can be complicated though—because, well, human beings themselves are so complicated.

Precision medicine embraces that complexity. The concept behind it: All of us are wildly distinct, genetically speaking. We differ not only in our genetics, but also in our environmental histories. In precision medicine, the goal is to provide each person with a specific, individualized treatment that takes these distinctions into account—as opposed to the more generalized approach to treatment that is necessary today.

What the Research Says

But back to the robots. Researchers recently presented their approach to AI-empowered healthcare at a New York Academy of Sciences conference. What they presented was, basically, a scenario in which computers are asked to think about genomics, diseases, and disease treatments in the same way that human beings do—only much faster and on a grander scale.

The applications for such a scenario could prove myriad. One particularly noteworthy application is drug research. According to this initial report, AI could be used to identify new uses for existing drugs—uses that previous research methods may have missed. It currently takes an average of 14 years and $2.6 billion to develop a single drug for clinical use, so the implications of AI-enabled methodologies—for pharmaceutical companies as well as for patients—are obviously exciting.

In fact, the researchers who presented these findings have already used an AI system—they call it EMERGENT—to identify new biomarkers that could prove to be drug targets for glaucoma.

Where Next?

So what is the next step for all of this? One immediate goal is to develop a new method to visualize the data produced by these research robots. After all, the AI results will not be useful unless biologists can actually sit down, understand them, and extrapolate. Right now, apps are being developed to make this possible, including some that will allow researchers to immerse themselves in AI data within the confines of a gaming system!

All of it seems promising—and certainly, medical research seems like it could be the best application yet for artificial intelligence.

New Handheld Device Could Curb Pain

By Ali Reza

The problem of pain is innate to the human experience: For as long as people have existed, they have experienced different levels and different types of physical discomfort, and anything from a stubbed toe to a major automobile accident can cause that pain to intensify. Of course, countless dollars and man hours are devoted to finding new ways to mitigate pain, sometimes to some effect and sometimes to little effect at all—but what if we told you that there is a new device that can literally put effective pain management into the palm of your hand?

Well, we should clarify: It wouldn’t be your hand, but the hand of your surgeon. A new handheld device could provide doctors and physicians with a revolutionary new approach to treating pain—and of course, medical patients the world over could benefit from this technology’s implementation.

The Rise of Chimaera

So what is this groundbreaking new surgical tool? Its mythology-referencing name is Chimaera, and its intent is to help surgeons identify the correct nerve with effortlessness and ease, providing them with real-time feedback during their operations. In short, it will make delicate nerve procedures much more manageable and much less unwieldy for surgeons—which could in effect revolutionize medicine.

That’s because nerves, as you might have heard, are pretty important, and in particular they are vital to the Body Paintopic of pain. Pain emanates from nerves. Whether you’re talking about the pain of a migraine headache, a twisted limb, or a paper cut, pain is experienced through the transmission of electrical signals from the nerves. Researchers, seeking new ways to manage and minimize pain, have long focused on overriding these nervous signals.

And there has been some progress made in this undertaking. Over the past few years, researchers have unveiled devices called neuromodulators, which function as implants and can, in theory, cease the experience of pain. The efficacy of these devices, however, depends on surgeons being able to locate the right nerves—no easy feat.

Getting the Right Nerves

There are many dangers to this process, because nerves often lay in big jumbles- especially in the face and behind the eyes. As such, picking through them to find the one that’s transmitting pain can be a big challenge—and getting it wrong can provide extreme damage to the patient.

Enter the Chimaera. This device helps surgeons to locate and access specific nerves, and it functions with Chimaera Devicerelative ease. The surgeon holds the device—a kind of hand-held wand, wireless and portable—near the point of planned incision. Chimaera then sends information about that place to a computer, where it is combined with a CT scan of the patient’s brain. All of this data is then combined into something that looks a little like an X-ray. Surgeons then don Google Glass (yes, really!) to examine the place of the surgery, and the data from the Chimaera allows them to see a map of the pertinent nerves, making it possible for them to implement their surgical tools with as much precision as possible.

The bottom line? Using Chimaera technology, surgeons can operate while doing as little damage as possible, sparing healthy nerves and ultimately implanting that pain-reducing neuromodulator with much greater effectiveness than would otherwise be possible.

A New World for Pain Management

It is difficult to overstate the potential significance of Chimaera. Consider this: Right now, delicate nerve operations can only be conducted by a handful of surgeons—the most skilled and in-demand surgeons across the planet. But if Chimaera is implemented and proves successful, it could make neuromodulator use commonplace, which will be good news indeed for anyone who suffers from migraines or other forms of chronic pain.

This technology is still in its conceptual stage, and probably won’t be in widespread use any time soon—but it is remarkable to think how this confluence of handheld technology with Google Glass and a good old-fashioned CT scan may make pain management more possible and more effective than ever before.

The Polio Virus and Cancer Treatment

A Possible Cure?

By Amanda C
Edited by Ali Reza

Cancer has been plaguing society for decades. While researchers have managed to eradicate and prevent numerous other diseases, cancer is one that has continued to evade them. There have been many breakthroughs and treatments which have left some patients in remission and extended the lives of others, but researchers are still seeking more effective treatments. One such approach which is gaining attention is the use of a modified polio virus to treat cancer.

Polio is a disease that scientists have virtually eliminated worldwide. There are still a few cases around, but there is a vaccine available which prevents many people from being infected. Polio can lead to paralysis and eventually death. After working so hard to prevent polio, why would they want to reintroduce it into society? Why take the risk? And that is the catch – researchers have modified the virus so that it targets cancer cells and does not trigger development of polio in patients.

A modified virus

For more than 20 years, Dr. Mattias Gromeier has been researching and experimenting with the polio virus. He found that while it does attach to neurons, which is what leads to polio, it also attaches to solid tumor cancer cells. Therefore he modified the virus to remove the sequence which causes it to attach to normal neurons, thereby making it target only cancer cells. When the virus is injected into tumors, it stimulates the body’s immune system and makes it think that there is polio present. The immune system then begins fighting off the cancer cells and ideally will kill the tumor.

Viruses have been studied for use in cancer treatment before, but this is one of the first times a virus has been able to target cancer cells. However, because polio can be a devastating disease, there has been much concern about using it for treatment. The Preston Robert Tisch Brain Tumor Center, where the research is being conducted, has tested the modified virus in animals for the last seven years to verify its safety. None of the animals in the trials developed polio. After years of research and testing, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) finally approved the virus for clinical trials in humans.

Treating humans

Because this is only the first stage of clinical testing, researchers are still focusing on safety, but this time in humans. They have been using the modified polio virus to develop a treatment for brain tumors, or glioblastomas, but believe that it could be used to treat other types of cancer as well. Researchers are aiming to find the right dosage of the virus that will treat the tumor while producing minimal side effects. Because they are waking up the immune system to fight off the cancer cells, this can lead to inflammation. Researchers need to find a balance between injecting enough of the virus to kill the tumor, while not causing too much discomfort in the patient.

Could this be a cure for cancer?

“Cure” is a word that researchers tend to steer clear of. Instead, they focus on remission. Although they have developed other treatment methods that have helped many patients achieve remission, there is always the risk that the cancer could come back. The cancer cells figure out ways to fight off the treatment and become resistant. There is no way to accurately predict what the cancer cells might do, so researchers try to create ways to make it more difficult for the cells to survive and fight back. Immunotherapy – which is what using the modified polio virus would be – may be one technique that is harder for cancer cells to fight.

The study is still only in phase one, so there is a long way to go, but it has shown positive results thus far. None of the animals used developed polio, and so far neither have the human patients. In addition, of the 22 patients who have received the therapy so far, two are cancer-free. As the study progresses to later stages where the focus turns more toward survival after the safety has been tested, the hope is that there will be more patients who become cancer-free or have prolonged survival. Only time will tell.

Learning to Love Running: A Goal-Oriented Activity

By Amanda C. (Contributor)
Edited by Ali Reza

Some people are natural athletes who are drawn to running and sports. Other people learn to love these activities because of the way it makes them feel. Running is a great way to work both your body and your mind. It doesn’t have to be a task that you dread – it can be a fun and relaxing way to stay in shape, clear your mind, and boost your confidence. One of the perks of running is that you are in control; you can go at your own pace and set your own goals.

Start off slowly. During your first run, you may not be able to make it more than a few minutes but that is okay. Your body needs time to adjust and build up endurance. Setting your sights on three miles the first time can leave you feeling defeated when you fall short of this unrealistic goal. Take into consideration your current level of physical activity and what is realistic. Take some time to get your muscles used to running. Start off running shorter distances and alternating with walking. Soon you will see that you can go for longer distances with more ease.

Set short- and long-term goals. Maybe today your goal is to run one block further than you did yesterday. By the end of the week you may want to do a mile. Then maybe a mile in a certain amount of time. Strive to beat your best times and push your distance even further. The only person you are really competing with is yourself. Set goals that you want to achieve, not goals that you think would please others. Track your runs so that you can see your progress.

Another way to stay motivated is to find races to participate in. Start off with a 5k and focus on preparing yourself. Enjoy the invigorating feeling of crossing that finish line and knowing you met your goal. Sign up for other races and set your sights higher. It can be very empowering and satisfying to reach various milestones you have set and realize that you are accomplishing what you have set your mind to.

Make it fun. Running doesn’t have to be boring. Create a playlist of your favorite upbeat songs to stay energized. Choose a path that gives you plenty of things to look at and enjoy the time to yourself. Many people use running as a way to clear their mind, reduce stress, and stay fit. If you enjoy company, call up a friend and have a running buddy to help you stay accountable and on track. You can motivate each other to reach that next goal.

A great thing about running is that you can do it almost anywhere, anytime. Lace up your sneakers and head out. Make running something that you do for yourself. As you start checking goals off of your list, it can inspire you and boost your self-esteem. In time you will begin to see results as your body becomes stronger and leaner, your endurance increases, and you’re running like you never thought you could. Start by taking those first few steps today and before you know it, you’ll be crossing the finish line.


How to Handle Your Spouse’s Depression

Dealing with a spouse’s illness is never easy. Administering patient, compassionate care—doing everything you can do while acknowledging your own limitations—can be draining, to say the least. This is all the more so when the illness in question is one that presents itself without any tangible, physical symptoms.

Mental illness is a prickly subject in general—still highly stigmatized despite being overwhelmingly common. Indeed, countless adults suffer with depression yet knowing how to help a depression patient remains elusive. When that depression patient is your spouse, however, it’s vital that you know how to respond with kindness, gentleness, and hope.

Understanding Depression

The first and best thing you can do to support your spouse is to understand what depression is—and what it isn’t.

Depression is a chemical imbalance in the brain, one that can affect mood and behavior in a number of different ways. It is a real illness, diagnosable and treatable through medicine—and though it is not necessarily something that can be “cured,” it is something that can come in seasons, its symptoms ebbing and flowing.

Depression is not made up. It is not an illusion, and it’s not something that exists all in your spouse’s head. It is not necessarily tied to any external event, nor is it something that can be “fixed.”

The worst ways to respond to depression are with anger, judgment, or shame. You would not feel embarrassed or angry at your spouse if he or she was diagnosed with cancer or a broken foot; depression is no different.

Being a Team Player

As you seek to understand your spouse, and to offer compassion and support, remember that you’re both on the same team and you’re fighting the same enemy. The enemy is not your spouse. The enemy is the disease itself. The enemy is depression.

Invest some time in showing your support and your closeness to your spouse, then. Go on daily walks together. Make yourself available to drive your spouse to a doctor’s appointment. Let your spouse know that you are always available to talk, but don’t be pushy about it. Let your spouse open up to you when the timing is right.

Make Wellness the Goal

Of course, your spouse may not be open to talking, and in fact your spouse may not admit that he or she has a problem. That’s where things can get dicey, and where it may fall to you to encourage your spouse to get the necessary help.

For depression to get better, you’ll likely need a medical diagnosis and a treatment course. Gently encourage your spouse to seek a medical professional’s opinion about this. Don’t be aggressive or judgmental, but simply let your spouse know that you want him or her to feel better and to live a healthy and happy life.

Keep Everyone in the Loop

Another potentially prickly point: Telling your kids about the issue. Very young children may not be aware that mom or dad has a medical problem, and may not need to. Older kids will pick up on it, and it is important to speak with them candidly about it—giving them information that is age-appropriate.

What does this information entail, and where do you draw the line? That’s an individual decision to make, based on the needs of your youngsters. Talk it over with your spouse and do what you believe to be in the family’s best interests, remembering that open communication is always to be desired.

Show Patience

A final word of note: Depression treatments do not work overnight. They work over time, sometimes shakily and imperfectly. You and your spouse will need to invest in a long-term fight against the disease, which means remaining hopeful even when things do not get better right off the bat.

Patience, understanding, support—these are the keys. Hold them close as you help your spouse through this treacherous, yet never hopeless, condition.