3 Mental Health Issues That Need to Be Addressed Before Hajj

9:59 - May 06, 2024
News ID: 3488218
IQNA – A psychiatrist points to three mental disorders that can disrupt the spiritual journey of Hajj, urging pilgrims to address them before the journey.

Mental disorders and Hajj


Speaking to IQNA, Hamidreza Dehqan, a psychiatrist from the Iranian Red Crescent Society, said that it is “crucial” for Hajj pilgrims to assess their mental health before embarking on their journey.

Hajj is a pilgrimage to Mecca that every able-bodied and financially able Muslim is obliged to undertake at least once during their lifetime.

The annual pilgrimage is regarded as one of the pillars of Islam and the largest act of mass pilgrimage in the world. It is also a demonstration of Muslims’ unity and their submission to Allah.


Particularly, those who grapple with obsessive tendencies, which is not uncommon among pilgrims, should seek professional help if they haven’t done so already, Dehqan said.

“Pilgrims who are overly concerned with cleanliness or the exactness of their worship rituals may find the environment in Saudi Arabia stressful,” he said, adding, “This stress can amplify their worries about the correctness of their actions.”

Starting treatment and achieving a degree of control over their condition can lead to a reduction in stress, making the Hajj journey more manageable, he noted.

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Obsessions can take many forms, and it is not just about cleanliness as some people feel compelled to repeatedly check things to achieve peace of mind, Dehqan said, adding, “For instance, during worship, they may doubt the number of Tawaf rounds they’ve completed. Despite performing Tawaf with a group, their obsession can still disrupt their peace of mind. They may worry about whether they’ve thrown the correct number of stones, or if their stones have hit the Jamrah. These obsessions can continue to bother them even when they return to their tents.”

It is “highly recommended” that these individuals consult with a psychiatrist before their journey, he said. “This allows for any necessary adjustments to their medication, ensuring a smoother and more peaceful Hajj experience.”

Sleep disorders

Sleep disorders are a “common” issue that many pilgrims encounter during Hajj, said the psychiatrist, adding, “As they transition into a communal lifestyle, sharing a room with three or four others for a span of 30 to 40 days, the varying habits of each individual can potentially lead to difficulties.”

“For instance, some people might be light sleepers, easily awakened by the slightest noise. Others may require complete darkness to rest effectively. There are those who prefer to rise in the middle of the night for a visit to the shrine, while some might enjoy a leisurely rest during the day,” he added.

If an individual is sensitive to these factors and struggles with sleep disorders, it’s advisable for them to seek treatment before embarking on their journey, Dehqan added.

Memory impairment

In recent years, particularly due to the Hajj’s closure because of the COVID-19 pandemic and the prohibition on elderly pilgrims’ participation, there’s been an increase in the age of pilgrims, he said.

It’s common for individuals over the age of 65 to experience some degree of memory impairment, according to Dehqan. “However, if a pilgrim’s memory impairment is more severe than average, the stress and anxiety of being in a foreign country like Saudi Arabia can exacerbate their condition; this is especially problematic for pilgrims who don’t have companions of the same sex.”

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Memory disorders often go undiagnosed in the individual’s home country, as family members are accustomed to their relative’s lifestyle and the person is living in a familiar environment, noted the psychiatrist. “However, when entering an unfamiliar environment, these disorders can become more apparent and cause significant problems for the pilgrim.”

If individuals are facing such issues, it’s recommended that they consult a psychiatrist before their Hajj trip, he said. “If they are diagnosed with a memory disorder, it may be necessary to postpone their trip.”