Ramadan 2023: How does fasting in the course of the holy month affect your psychological health?

During the holy month of Ramadan, hundreds of thousands of Muslims around the globe fast from dawn till sunset as an act of devotion and religious reflection.

While the advantages of fasting for physical health are nicely documented, the results of this practice can be advantageous to Muslims’ psychological health, consultants within the United Arab Emirates have mentioned.

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Fasting may help anxiety, depression

Dr Nada Omer Mohamed Elbashir, a marketing consultant psychiatrist at Burjeel Hospital, Abu Dhabi, said there’s rising confidence at present in regards to the optimistic effects of fasting on psychological health.

“Individuals that fast have skilled enhancements of their signs of depression, nervousness and even stress,” she advised Al Arabiya English. “They also reported decreased fatigue within the second week of fasting. This could presumably be attributed to inducing ketone metabolism and its anti-inflammatory results that contribute to decrease stress levels.’

“Neurotransmitters are essential chemical elements of the brain. They ship signals that not solely affects how we perform, communicate, and assume but in addition how we really feel. Many research have proven that fasting can enhance the level of serotonin in the blood, a neurotransmitter that has been strongly linked to despair and nervousness as soon as it’s depleted. Dopamine, one other neurotransmitter that has been strongly linked to despair and psychosis, appears unchanged by fasting. However, additional studies are taking place in the future that can maybe prove in any other case.”

A girl prays during the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan in Amman September 24, 2006.

A girl prays through the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan in Amman September 24, 2006.

However, the physician said is essential to notice that fasting during Ramadan isn’t beneficial for individuals who’re in danger for medical complications or those that have pre-existing mental health situations. For those that are fasting, it’s essential to monitor bodily and psychological health intently and search professional help if needed.

Those who need medication to maintain their mental health must also seek the assistance of a doctor before the holy month.

“Medication consumption and timings are essential, especially when therapeutic ranges within the blood are desired,” she stated. People with bipolar dysfunction and schizophrenia must be maintained with their medicines as recommended.”

“Many people struggle with adjusting their medicines during the daytime in Ramadan. It is really helpful that the treatment is taken in full prescribed dosage if fasting is chosen, however timings can be adjusted to Iftar or Suhoor. However, it is strongly advised to take your specialist’s opinion about medications if you select to fast and alter the time.”

A reduction in stress

Dr Farinaz Aghajan Nashtaei, a specialist psychiatrist at International Modern Hospital Dubai, told Al Arabiya English that a number of research have proven that fasting can have constructive results on mental well being, corresponding to reducing stress, anxiousness, and depressive symptoms.

“For example, one research discovered that fasting throughout Ramadan led to important reductions in stress and anxiousness ranges amongst individuals. Another examine found that fasting can improve neuroplasticity, which can contribute to the reduction of depressive signs.”

Residents enjoy the sunrise after starting their fast during the holy month of Ramadan at Ramlet al-Baida beach on Tarout Island, Saudi Arabia, April 23, 2021. (Reuters)

Residents enjoy the dawn after beginning their quick during the holy month of Ramadan at Ramlet al-Baida seaside on Tarout Island, Saudi Arabia, April 23, 2021. (Reuters)

In addition to these psychological well being benefits, fasting has been shown to improve cognitive operate and stop age-related cognitive decline, stated Dr Nashtaei, pointing out that research has also demonstrated that fasting can sluggish neurodegeneration and enhance functional restoration after a stroke.

“These effects are regarded as mediated by numerous psych neuroendocrine mechanisms, such as increased levels of plasma ghrelin and serotonin, which may improve mood and cognitive perform.”

However, fasting throughout Ramadan can even have unfavorable results on mental health, mentioned the physician.

Dehydration and fatigue can cause irritability, temper swings, and difficulties in concentration. In addition, adjustments in sleep patterns and food regimen can lead to nervousness, despair, and stress. Some individuals can also expertise a way of isolation and loneliness because of altered social interactions through the month.

Practice self-care

Dr Nashtaei means that people who plan to fast throughout Ramadan should take measures to guard their mental well being.

Adequate hydration and nutrition throughout non-fasting hours might help stop bodily signs which will impact mental well being. Additionally, partaking in bodily activity and maintaining social connections can help reduce feelings of isolation and melancholy.

“To keep good physical and psychological well being throughout Ramadan, it’s important to follow self-care,” she said.

“This includes consuming a balanced and healthy diet throughout non-fasting hours, staying hydrated, getting enough relaxation, engaging in common physical exercise, and practising rest techniques to handle stress.”

“It is also essential for individuals with pre-existing psychological health conditions or continual sicknesses to consult with their healthcare suppliers before making any changes to their treatment or treatment plans.”

A traditional crescent moon decorates a street in front of the Future Museum in Dubai on April 2, 2022, during the first day of the Muslim holy fasting month of Ramadan. (AFP)

A conventional crescent moon decorates a avenue in entrance of the Future Museum in Dubai on April 2, 2022, through the first day of the Muslim holy fasting month of Ramadan. (AFP)

“With proper care and a focus to one’s bodily and mental well being needs, Ramadan is usually a meaningful and rewarding experience that promotes both religious and physical well-being. By prioritizing self-care throughout Ramadan, individuals can be sure that they are caring for themselves whereas partaking on this important non secular follow.”

Dr Sushil Garg, Consultant Neurologist, NMC Royal Hospital, told Al Arabiya English that during the holy month of Ramadan, those who are fasting will endure adjustments of their consuming habits, sleep patterns and every day routine, which can affect their physical and psychological well being.

He stated, by taking appropriate measures to care for their physical and emotional well-being, people can make certain that they have a wholesome and spiritually fulfilling Ramadan experience.

Dr Bobby Baby Panikulam, a specialist neurologist at Abu Dhabi’s LLH Hospital, told Al Arabiya English that the holy month of Ramadan carries immense significance as it’s a interval of mental, bodily, religious detoxification, and rejuvenation.

“But there are specific precautions that sufferers with chronic sicknesses should take to combat neurological problems like complications, migraine, and seizures,” he cautioned.

“Some psychological well being issues could worsen during Ramadan as a result of dehydration, altered sleep-wake cycle, caffeine withdrawal and low blood glucose levels that occur during fasting hours.”

“Patients with chronic neurological problems similar to multiple sclerosis and stroke who’re fasting need to closely monitor for any new signs and search medical consideration urgently if signs do happen. During Ramadan, migraine sufferers should avoid migraine-triggering elements like brilliant lighting, loud sounds, and physical and psychological stress. Also, scale back caffeine intake and keep away from excessive smoking throughout and after Iftar.”

The physician suggested hydrating properly from Iftar to Suhoor and consuming a well-balanced, healthy diet that’s low in sodium and doesn’t include processed or fried meals.

“Aim for multiple meals at intervals to enhance the symptoms and enhance the vitality ranges wanted throughout fasting hours.,” he stated.

“Try to rest for a couple of hours earlier than breaking quick. Neurology sufferers should additionally ensure to get loads of sleep. Adhering to meditation and prayers throughout Ramadan might help you keep calm and grounded, enabling you to cope with stress and unfavorable feelings.”

Read more:

Get Ramadan-ready with these wholesome pre-fasting habits, meals suggestions from UAE experts

Ramadan 2023: Reduced working hours anticipated for UAE employees

Ramadan and Eid al-Fitr 2023: Expected dates, public holidays in UAE, Saudi Arabia







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