Fasting in the month of Ramadan has many advantages for individuals living with psychological disorders such as mild degrees of depression, anxiety, and insomnia. Fasting, and the spiritual and social practices that accompany it enable these individuals to withstand and cope with life’s worries and woes and, as a result, reach a state of tranquility.
Fasting and associated acts of worship, such as Taraweeh (evening mass prayer) during the Holy Month of Ramadan promote communication and social interaction among people. Fasting is believed to result in the release of endorphins, these are the body’s naturally released ‘happiness’ hormones. Patients with mild to moderate degrees of depression participating in such activities tend to get removed out of their secluded lifestyle and, alternatively, become rather optimistic and start to think positively of themselves and others around them. Six percent of the world’s population suffers from depression, an estimate of about 350 million people of all ages according to the World Health Organization.
Research studies revealed that fasting helps self-restraint and better anger management in hot tempered individuals. 'Qiyam al-Layl' (late evening) voluntary prayer in Ramadan also leads to peace of mind and helps curb frustration associated with the burdens and pressures of life.
International research has revealed that fasting had a great positive impact on individuals undergoing therapeutic treatment for addiction and substance abuse, as this act of worship promotes positive behavioral change in these individuals. In fact, there has been some research suggesting that spiritual practices result in structural changes to the brain in areas associated with depression, thus having a protective factor.