On first meeting Helen* you could assume she was just having a bad day. You know the ones, where no matter what anyone else said or did it just wasn’t going to change your outlook on life.
At least for the most of us we can go for a walk, talk to a friend or take an earlier night, feeling much better as a result. For Helen her perception of life begun to feel like that every day.
Many people are unclear about the difference between anxiety and depression, which is understandable as we often hear the two commonly phased together.
Although both are mental health disorders they stem from two separate primary problems, with one often a resulting symptom of the other.
Let this article be a reflection of what I have personally experienced treating clients with depression alongside scientific studies that have found Reiki to be an effective therapy for treating symptoms of mental health.
What’s The Difference?
Anxiety Disorders are characterised by a sense of self-doubt and vulnerability about what the future brings (living in fear of the future).
I often have found my clients to hold high expectations of themselves most of which contribute to their fear of not being able to live up to unrealistic goals and standards which they, (or they feel others) have set for them.
Depression unlike anxiety doesn’t focus on the uncertainty of what the future holds, rather people with depression feel they already know what the future will bring, and there is nothing to look forward to.
Depression affects how people feel about themselves, there are in fact many and multiple causes of major depression.
Factors such as genetic vulnerability, severe life stressors, substance consumed (some medications, drugs and alcohol) and medical conditions which can lead to faulty mood regulation in the brain.
Although symptoms of anxiety and depression are similar, the major difference for me is the lack of enjoyment and vitality that someone with depression displays.
Activities they once found exciting no longer have the same emotional response, this coupled with feelings of anger, self- loathing and helplessness can be a dangerous place without professional support.
The most intriguing aspect of treating people with depression and anxiety for me is the difference in energy. Anxiety energetically moves in peaks (yang) and troughs (yin) with very little, if any balance between.
Take my client Tom* for example; his energy was a constant contradiction to himself.
Tom’s outward energy would project that he was easy going, motivated, jovial and social however underneath it all he actually felt restless, noncommittal (need to run away/avoid), self-conscious and in need of control.
Tom’s actions (yang energy) were overcompensating for his feelings (yin energy) leaving him exhausted and often in need of time alone. It’s what I call the “energetic hangover” causing his anxiety to elevate.
Helen on the other hand displayed a completely different flow of energy to Tom. Instead of having an exterior of ‘everything is great’, she projected and believed that ‘everything was bad’ or better yet nothing was good.
Helen lacked motivation for life, had no desire to socialise and found daily tasks a drain.
When I first treated Helen her energy was flowing excessively inward/downward resulting in a heaviness of mind, body and heart.
The ability to lift herself up and out of her moods was becoming increasingly difficult, until she eventually was offered help.
Healing Depression Through Reiki. Reiki As A Complimentary Therapy
The Centre for Reiki Research (CRR) has intensely examined the efficacy of Reiki when applied to a variety of illnesses and conditions, including depression.
Through the CRR’s ‘Touchstone Process’ which is a rigorous peer review method for analysing a group of scientific studies, research found that Reiki primarily helps in the reduction of stress, anxiety and depression as well as relief from chronic pain.
In one study (Shore, 2004) a group of patients that were treated for mild depression and stress found that after six weeks of Reiki treatment and for up to a year afterward, those who had received Reiki showed both immediate and long-term improvements in depression, stress and feelings of hopelessness.
Depression can be a result from chronic pain, having a substantial effect on the individual’s psychological well-being.
Dressing and Sing (1998) found that among cancer patients, Reiki brought about significant levels of pain relief, reduced anxiety and depression, also finding improvements in sleep quality, relaxation and general well-being.
Reiki is increasingly accepted in health and community care facilities including hospitals, hospices and cancer support units. It is seen as an effective and cost-reducing method to improve health outcomes and quality of care.
Through associations such as the CRR, scientific validation has helped to bring Reiki into to the mainstream health systems, where patients including those with depression can benefit. Healing depression through Reiki has worked for many people.
Helen’s* depression developed from a culmination of events in her life that eventually became too much to cope. For years, the majority of her energy went into hiding her sense of self-loathing, having no capacity to recognise her own value or abilities.
Helen over this time slowly lost contact with her friends and avoided her family where possible. She began putting all her focus into work, finding it a safe excuse to ignore the pink elephant in the room …. Herself.
In Helen’s head she didn’t want to admit weakness, she’d come so far creating distance between herself and the world, she didn’t know how to come back.
Eventually with performance at work declining, her boss instigated a review and then a meeting with a psychologist. This meeting was to save her life.
Finding A Path Of Treatment
Helen was placed on anti-depressants by her doctor, reluctant at first she soon saw the benefits when the light started to filter back into her life.
For the first time in what seemed an eternity, Helen was ready to address her condition, knowing that a diagnosis and pill wasn’t the only answer.
Working with a psychologist Helen was able to process her thoughts and feelings on the events prior to her depression. Her sister who had read about the benefits of Reiki felt that it would complement the groundwork she was doing in therapy, buying her a course of treatments.
Over a 12 week period I applied Reiki both as a face to face and distance treatment. Before and after treatment Helen would report her overall health and well-being on a questionnaire which we later used to measure the effects of her receiving Reiki.
Throughout our treatments I applied Reiki on specific areas of the body for as long as the energy required. Initially the treatments went for 90 minutes, however over time this was reduced to 30 minute sessions as balance was being restored.
The overall result showed improvements to Helen’s sleep pattern, digestive system, energy levels and general outlook on life. She reported a deep sense of peace and relaxation during and after treatments loving the fact she was ‘feeling’ her body again.
After the 12 week program I taught Helen Reiki 1 as a form of self-treatment. Reiki I know has been invaluable to her and she continues to use it along her path of self-healing.
Towards The Light
Helen’s diagnosis was a turning point in the road, if she knew what she knows now back then, she would have found help sooner; you see that is the beauty of hindsight. We don’t know what the future holds, however we must trust that there is always light at the end of the tunnel.
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Prue Proctor – Reflexologist & Reiki Master
Dressin, L.J., Singg, S. (1998). Effects of Reiki on pain and selected affective and personality variables of chronically ill patients. Subtle Energies and Energy Medicine, 9(1):53-82.
Center for Reiki Research (CRR). Retrieved April 28th, 2015 from http://www.centerforreikiresearch.org/
Shore, A.G. (2004). Long term effects of energetic healing on symptoms of psychological depression and self-perceived stress. Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine, 10(3):42-48.