Mental health problems under lockdown: how can faith change this?
The spread of coronavirus has led to lockdown and self-isolation being imposed throughout the affected countries both in the West and East. In simple terms it means that people get cooped up in their homes for weeks and even months, in an environment that resembles a self-imposed prison sentence. And in this prison there is an enemy that is lurking unseen until the moment is ripe for him to strike. The enemy’s name is ‘depression’.
Psychologically, there are several factors contributing to it – having to spend time in a closed environment and having to interact with other individuals who trespass on your personal space and abuse your personal time on a regular basis. Needless to say, in such circumstances your ‘home sweet home’ becomes a dungeon and your ‘dearly beloved’ turn into monsters. Multiply this by the uncertainty of the duration of this mess and you can be sure your mind will be a stone’s throw away from buckling or head straight into the twilight zone.
Here we shall try to take a tested approach to solving the problem and turn to Millati Islami, the 12 steps program of recovering from addictions. It shall work for any mental problems because it is the first three steps that shall be relevant in all of such cases:
1) We admitted that we were neglectful of our higher selves and that our lives have become unmanageable.
2) We to believe that Allah could and would restore us to sanity.
3) We made a decision to submit our will to the will of Allah.
So here we have it, the key to solving the problem. Faith in God and submission to Allah. And the subsequent exploration of your spiritual world in search of support, enlightenment and relief. In doing so we have Allah’s promise of success, for ‘Allah has not sent any disease without sending a cure for it’ (Sahih al-Bukhari, 5354).
This approach is not only sound in purely religious terms, it has been found solid by scientists. A study carried out by researchers from Harvard Medical School and published in the peer-reviewed Journal of Affective Disorders suggested that “a higher level of belief was linked with greater reduction in depression symptoms and self-harm behaviours, and greater gains in overall psychological wellbeing over the course of treatment”. Muslim journalist Hasnet Lais summed up the results of the research saying that “religiosity influences the micro-structural and anatomical levels of the brain, helping to shape our cognitive processes to act as a buffer against several mental health conditions”.
We therefore see how significantly faith can help you cope with depression and other mental health issues. The rest is a matter of just one effort, that of fortifying your devotion and observing the prescriptions of Islam in the teeth of mental agony. Prevail upon yourself once and receive relief, for “whoever relies upon Allah – then He is sufficient for him” (65:3)