Treating Muslim patients with psychiatric disorders during Ramadan

Publication Date: May 07, 2019

Ramadan, the Muslim month of fasting, began Monday, May 6th. An article by Furqan, Awaad, Kurdyak, Husain, Husain, & Zaheer just published in Lancet Psychiatry documents a number of key clinical considerations for treating people with psychiatric disorders who are observing the month-long fast.


Some highlights from the article include:

“Patients with bipolar disorder might be particularly sensitive to circadian rhythm disturbances and could require increased monitoring of their symptoms during this month.

Alcohol consumption is not permitted in Islam; however, clinicians should not assume that all Muslim patients do not use alcohol. Muslims with alcohol use disorder might be at risk for alcohol withdrawal symptoms during Ramadan.

Fasting during Ramadan might confer benefits for patient's emotional and spiritual wellbeing, as well as social connectedness.

Consider including the patient's spiritual supports in decision making if the patient would find this helpful.

If a medication is dosed twice daily, can it be given safely if the interval between doses is shortened (ie, between sunset and dawn)?

Is the absorption of a medication affected by food? How might this affect dosing during Ramadan?

Are there concerns about lithium toxicity and dehydration if patients are fasting for long hours during the summer? Should more frequent monitoring of levels be ordered?

Is the client using medications that can have withdrawal symptoms (ie, benzodiazepines or opioids)?” 

Please click here for access to the article.


Furqan, Z., Awaad, R., Kurdyak, P., Husain, M. I., Husain, & Zaheer, J. (2019). Considerations for clinicians treating Muslim patients with psychiatric disorders during Ramadan. Lancet Psychiatry,  http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/S2215-0366(19)30161-0