Healthcare therapists can provide culturally appropriate medication, especially for individuals from minority groups. There is a significant cultural difference between people born in the US or EU and migrants from the Muslim world to the West. As immigrants try to switch to the new cultural environments, they become more susceptible to mental illnesses and depression. Chances are even higher for migrant families that suffer losses of loved ones. Interestingly, religious identity receives less attention from scholars and medics in the United States, despite the presence of multiple types of research to discuss the priorities of ailing individuals from the cultural and ethnic background.
The Islamic religion is not only growing rapidly but also is spreading faster in the Western world. Scholars attribute such development to solidarity amidst waves of violence in the Middle East and migrant crises in Europe and Asia. Today, there are more than a billion Muslims globally. It is not easy to switch from a Muslim culture to a secular lifestyle, hence the high rates of self-reported poor health among the Muslim community in the United States (Bonelli & Koenig, 2013). In this regard, the intervention focus should be towards a concentrated attention on evidence supporting practitioners and therapists in engaging effectively with Muslim patient’s religious identity.
The intervention must be defined broadly. Considering the breadth of the initial scoping work, qualitative and quantitative evidence are viable in considering the best viable option for patient treatment. Muslim’s beliefs on etiology, cultural factors, and beliefs on depression treatment can influence the patient’s orientation to medical therapy. Muslims born in Armenia, Iraq, or Iran are convinced that depression results from jinni (supernatural phenomena), Havisham, evil eye, or seitan. Others consider curses, evil eyes, jadoo, saya, or dark shadows as potential causes of poor mental health and depression (Koenig & Larson, 2011). The believers view depressions rising from within due to subsequent bad luck in the family as a result of not praying regularly, diminishing faith in Allah, or moral transgression. Due to such deep convictions, the therapist must understand that his diagnosis of the client’s depression can significantly affect her social relationships. As modern and religious values conflict, it is probable that a Muslim US citizen will be depressed.
The study shows that faith can be a coping mechanism, especially for an aging female Muslim client. Moreover, Muslims consider cleanliness and self-care as part of drawing near to holiness. Traditional believers seek spiritual assistance from psychotherapeutic sessions as well as spiritual healers. Therefore, it is imperative for a therapist to build trust and strong relationship with her client so that they can believe in their ability to heal.
Qur’an states that “holy people are responsible for the soul” but a section of the Muslim community (especially those that have resided in the US for years) consider Western medication as one of the most effective depression remedies. During the therapy session, the physician should utilize behavioral and cognitive approaches such as suggesting and discussing the potential treatment options with the patient (Kuyken et al., 2012). However, there are suggestions that a directive approach is the most appropriate and effective. Notably, Islam does not contradict medications hence it is easy to find a Muslim client that believes that the doctor’s directives will eliminate the disease, especially if she adheres to all the instructions as provided (Walpole et al., 2013). Therefore, the patient cannot increase the effectiveness of and compliance with the medication unless the doctor explains in details how she can comply with the prescription.
In summary, the therapist has to work with community leaders and the client’s family members, considering their importance to Muslims. In most cases, Muslim clients want their family members to be present during each therapy session. However, other patients are unwilling to divulge confidential information in the presence of respected family members such as parents or spouses.
- Bonelli, R. M., & Koenig, H. G. (2013). Mental Disorders, Religion and Spirituality 1990 yo 2013: A Systematic Evidence-Based Review. Journal of Religion and Health, 52(2), 657-673.
- G. Koenig, H., & Larson, D. B. (2011). Religion and Mental Health: Evidence for an Association. International Review of Psychiatry, 13(2), 67-78.
- Kuyken, W., Byford, S., Taylor, R. S., Watkins, E., Holden, E., White, K., & Teasdale, J. D. (2012). Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy to Prevent Relapse in Recurrent Depression. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 76(6), 966.
- Walpole, S. C., McMillan, D., House, A., Cottrell, D., & Mir, G. (2013). Interventions for Treating Depression in Muslim Patients: A Systematic Review. Journal of Affective Disorders, 145(1), 11-20.