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10 Years of Acute OCD, Anxiety and Depression

Question and answer details
J (27-female-UK)
2012/07/18
As-salamu `alaykum,I have suffered for ten years with acute OCD and anxiety and depression. I take strong medication and see non-Muslim psychiatrists, therapists and doctors for help but with no progress. I need some strong Islamic proof and support for my problems as I believe there is no strength and cure but with Allah in the end. I do not have any friends because I am scared if I take them in my car I will get distracted and crash and be paralyzed and be forever depressed. I am so scared to go out anywhere because I am terrified someone will abuse me especially physically such as blind me or maim my face etc from being a white revert in hijab in UK. I sit at home and pick and scratch myself all day from fearing harm from others to my eyes and harm to me that would leave me more depressed. I don't see reality anymore so please can you help me put all this into perspective. I drive so aggressively and hate people and my father always tells me someone will put acid in my face and doesn't accept my conversion. Jazak Allah and Allah reward you.
Heena Khan
Answer

As salamu alaykum dear sister,

I’m sorry to hear that you have been suffering with acute OCD, anxiety and depression for the past 10 years without much progress. However, I am relieved to know that you have been taking medication: this is a difficult thing to do.

Regarding your statement about Islamic proof: The Quran or hadith do not specify OCD, anxiety or depression. However, what they do mention is the influence of Shaitan (Satan) on you and this influence can occur repeatedly which may be your obsessional thoughts.

With that said, OCD is caused by some form of chemical imbalance in your brain and the medication helps to balance those chemicals. There is no such Islamic proof about your conditions.

From the information you have provided it seems like you have comorbid severe anxiety about being with others or in a public place. This anxiety somewhat appears to be due to wearing a hijab or being Muslim I suppose. Please correct me if I’m wrong. And this anxiety is leading to your depression-essentially a viscous cycle.

It also appears that your father is exacerbating your anxiety by saying that someone will throw acid on your face. It is clear that your anxiety and depression is stemming from your OCD thoughts, your father’s unacceptance of your conversion, fearful statements from your father and maybe several other family and life factors.

One thing that was not stated in the questions is whether you have undergone extensive counseling or therapy. Research has suggested that Cognitive behavioral therapy is the most successful form of treatment for anxiety and depression. Also, systematic desensitization is very helpful for anxiety. Have you had either of these forms of therapy?

Recommendations:

I don’t exactly know much about your treatment history; however, I will go ahead and suggest some recommendations that may be helpful.

  1. Search for therapists or psychologists in your city who treat specifically using Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and Systematic Desensitization. These treatment modalities I believe would be beneficial for you especially to help relieve that anxiety so you can start going out without fear. The highest success rates are seen among clients who go through therapy and medication simultaneously. Please be sure to do both together.

Also, I think family therapy would be good for you as well, that is if your father agrees to go with you to counseling. Hopefully the therapist can educate him so he develops tolerance and respect for you and your faith.

  2. Keep a check on what kinds of things you include in your diet. Probably the most overlooked form of therapy for treating obsessive compulsive disorder, and many disorders like it is through whole food diet therapy as mentioned in the Quran.

A diet rich in tryptophan, the amino acid precursor to serotonin, is essential to maintaining levels of serotonin (which is linked to Depression and anxiety). The following foods are rich in this amino acid and should be incorporated into your diet regularly. This list includes: oatmeal, rice bran, eggs, cottage and swiss cheeses, blueberries, bananas, and turkey, roast beef, chicken, whole grains, salmon, tofu, brown rice, baked beans, broccoli, avocado, mackerel, potatoes, nuts and sunflower seeds.

It is also advisable that you choose organic, pesticide and hormone free meats and veggies.

3. Try finding an Islamic convert group in your city. Converting to Islam can be a challenge depending on one’s family and environment. It seems like your environment is not accepting, therefore, try joining a group at your local mosque or talk to other sisters and brothers who are converts themselves. Try Googling such groups, you may find several in your area.

  4. I’m wondering if you live with your parents-it is not clear in the info you provided. I know this could prove to be difficult, but if possible try to perhaps move out and live independently. Sometimes removing yourself from negative people can be really helpful. However, if that is not possible, you will have to work on coping with this situation with your therapist.

  5. One thing is far more important than any of this is doing zikr and praying often. There is no bigger force or strength than reciting the names of Allah. It requires minimum effort; just pick one name every day and recite it several times during the day in your mind-randomly. Another thing you could do is go to an Imam and ask him for some specific duas that would be beneficial for you to recite.

  6. Last but not least, I want you to focus on yourself. Think about who you are as a person, your goals, accomplishments, dreams, etc. When you get depressed or anxious, take a moment, shut your eyes, think about a happy moment, memory, place in your life and enjoy the thought.

I hope this was helpful. You seem to have a lot of insight and self-awareness which is great. I must also say that it is very brave of you to reach out and post this question to get help. In sha’ Allah, keep the faith and things will get better soon.

If you have any further questions, feel free to send me another question (s).

 

For further guidance, please try the following links:


About the Counselor:

Heena Khan is an Licensed Professional Counselor Intern (LPC intern) in the State of Texas. She also holds the credential of National Certified Counselor (NCC). Mrs. Khan has worked with children and adults in various settings and has experience in individual, group, family therapy and diagnostic assessments. All of the Mrs. Khan's cases are reviewed and supervised by her supervisor, Jennifer Jenkins, LPC-S.

Disclaimer:

The conceptualization and recommendations stated in this response are very general and purely based on the limited information that was provided in the question. You are strongly advised to seek face-to-face counseling and consult your physician or therapist when making a drastic change in your lifestyle in terms of behavior, medication or diet etc.

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