Healing Seasonal Affective Disorder: Consider the Spiritual Essence

Feb 22, 2023

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a recurrent type of depression that occurs during a time of year when there is less sunlight. The depression may start in late August or early fall when it becomes evident the days have less and less sunlight. The depression typically alleviates in the spring as the amount of daylight increases (https://rogersbh.org/application/files/2116/7585/8785/PPT-slides_020723.pdf).

Depression is a mood disorder that affects one in every ten adults (NCCIH, 2023). The state of depression can be long lasting and affect an individual’s physical body, mental health, emotional well-being, and spiritual connection. Depression can be debilitating. Additionally, two-thirds of those experiencing depression, contemplate suicide (Sadock et al., 2015).

Physical symptoms of depression include weight gain or loss, sleeping problems, decreased energy, lack of motivation, and psychomotor agitation. Additionally, one may experience negative or pessimistic thinking, and have trouble focusing or concentrating, and completing tasks. Extreme and persistent sadness, apathy, low self-esteem, hopelessness, feelings of worthlessness, emptiness, and inappropriate guilt are some of the emotional conditions common in depression. Furthermore, depressed individuals tend to withdraw or isolate from family and friends (Preston et al., 2013; Sadock et al., 2015).

Seasonal affective depression can be treated and healed. Research shows that seasonal affective disorder can be treated with light therapy, psychopharmacologic medications, supplements, cognitive behavior therapy, mindfulness practices and meditation, and a combination of the modalities (https://rogersbh.org/application/files/2116/7585/8785/PPT-slides_020723.pdf).

The integration of Reiki and psychotherapy is another effective method for working through and healing seasonal affective depression. This modality of holistic healing considers the whole person; the mental, emotional, physical, and spiritual aspects of a person.

The Healing Process

The term “healing,” in this discussion refers to a process of dynamic personal life-giving transformation. Healing is a life long journey of learning and growth that happens in the present moment with acceptance of oneself.

The process of healing is not limited to the body, or even the mind, but also includes the spiritual essence of a person. “Healing” does not only refer to a cure of a condition or a disease, but rather the process of making whole. People are unique and complex beings. A person’s outlook on life and their view of the world influences the mental, physical, and spiritual health and wellness of the individual. Factors such as personality, genetics, environment, and spiritual connection and the interaction of each factor influence and govern how an individual relates to another and to the world (Beck, 1999). All aspects of a person must then be considered when working through and healing depression.

Our Spiritual Essence

Spirituality is integrated with one’s essence and being. It cannot be separated from our person.

Humans have an inherent value and dignity that is defined by the theological term, Imago Dei. There is a divine spirituality; a moral, spiritual and intellectual nature that is created in the image and likeness of God. This sacredness is unique to humans (Genesis 1:27).  Humans are viewed as innately good, with value and as positive spiritual beings.

As spiritual beings, living a human experience, there is a recognition that spirituality runs through all dimensions of one’s life. Spirituality is interwoven in our thoughts, feelings, and actions. Spirituality is a part of an individual’s issues, solutions to the problems, and includes one’s cultural and social environments.

Spirituality defines a person’s place in the world. It is the lens that they choose to see God or their higher power. Spirituality is the expression of one’s divinity. Spirituality is linked to greater levels of meaning in life (Park, et. al., 2013), comfort (Exline, et.al., 2000), satisfaction with life (Abu-Raiya, et.al., 2015), and lower levels of depression and anxiety (Hood, et. al., 2009).

The Spiritual Essence of an individual must be considered when working through and healing seasonal affective depression.

An Effective Approach to Healing our Spiritual Essence

The integration of Reiki and psychotherapy is a modality for working through and healing depression that addresses the interconnectedness of cognitive, behavioral, spiritual, and energetic aspects of a person. The paradigm is a combination of the holistic and spiritual energy practice of Reiki and talk therapy or psychotherapy.

The healing that results, promotes symptom reduction, helps develop new and healthy perspectives on life, new coping skills for depression and leads to positive changes in relationships. This method gives specific attention to the spiritual essence of a person as well as the body.

Reiki is a dynamic process and technique that reduces depression, anxiety, stress, and tension. The practice of Reiki enhances creativity, increases hope and happiness, and promotes compassion for the self and others. It leads to improved relationships and provides the basis for a complete healing for health and well-being. Reiki leads to strengthening of the body’s ability to heal itself by rebalancing, recharging and realigning of the human energy fields (Usui & Petter, 2000).

The energy of Reiki is a spiritual holistic energy that provides an opportunity for a shift toward positive, life-giving perspectives, and an awareness of the sacred within each of us.

Talk therapy or psychotherapy is a safe and effective treatment that attempts to reverse inaccurate beliefs and emotional processing. Psychotherapy enables individuals to understand themselves, reflect, set goals, take responsibility, and consciously choose to make changes. Psychotherapy is a process of exploring and resolving personal or interpersonal issues as well as developing self-understanding and insight that brings about life changes (Fall et al., 2010).

A Strong Contrast To SAD

The integration of Reiki and psychotherapy is a strong contrast to the darkness and heaviness of depression.

The holistic energy practice of Reiki inherently brings the spiritual aspect of an individual into the therapeutic session. The spiritual energy of Reiki offers a loving, calming, and peaceful experience in which new insights and reflections may occur without judgment or shame. The psychotherapist is able to use Reiki as a tool to shift negative viewpoints to positive, abundant, life-giving perspectives. These changes provide hope. Hope is the opposite of depression.

If you are experiencing seasonal affective depression, contact your primary doctor or mental health professional to assist you with treatment and healing.

* The paradigm of the integration of Reiki and psychotherapy may also include pharmacologic medications if necessary.



Abu-Raiya, H., Kause, N., Pargament, K. I., & Ironson, G. (2015). Robust links between religious/spiritual struggles, psychological distress, & wellbeing in a national sample of American adults. American Journal of Orthopsychiatry, 85(6), 565- 575.

Beck, J. R. (1999). Jesus & personality theory: Exploring the five-factor model. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.

Exline, J. J., Yali, A. M., & Sanderson, W. C. (2000). Guilt, discord, and alienation: The role of religious strain in depression and suicidality. Journal of Clinical Psychology, 56, 1481-1496. http://dx.doi.org/10.1002.1097- 4679(200012)56:12<1481::AID-1>3.0.CO;2-A

Fall, K. A., Holden, J. M., & Marquis A. (2010). Theoretical models of counseling and psychotherapy (2nd ed.). New York: Taylor & Francis Group.

Hood, R. W., Jr., Hill, P. C. & Spilka, B. (2009). The psychology of religion: An empirical approach. (4th ed.) New York: Guilford Press.

National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health: Depression. Retrieved February 2,    2023 from https://www.nccih.nih.gov/health/depression

Park, C. L., Edmondson, D., & Hale-Smith, A. (2013). Why religion? Meaning as motivation. In K. I. Pargament, J. J. Exline, & J. W. Jones (Eds.), APA Handbook of Psychology, Religion, and Spirituality: Vol 1, Context, Theory, and Research. 157-171.

Preston, J. D, O’Neal, J. H., Talaga, M. C. (2013). Handbook of clinical psychotherapy for therapist. (7th ed.) Oakland, CA: New Harbinger Publications, Inc.

Rogers Behavioral Health. Retrieved February 8, 2023 from https://rogersbh.org/application/files/2116/7585/8785/PPT-slides_020723.pdf.

Sadock, B. J., Sadock, V. A., Ruiz, P. (2015). Kaplan & Sadock’s synopsis of psychiatry: Behavioral sciences/clinical psychiatry. (11th ed.). New York: Wolters Kluwer.

Usui M, & Petter, FA. (2000). The original Reiki handbook of Dr. Mikao Usui. Twin Lakes, WI:  Lotus Press.


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