Pastoral Psychology

, Volume 56, Issue 5, pp 521–532 | Cite as

Disconnection, Depression, and Spirituality: A Study of the Role of Spirituality and Meaning in the Lives of Individuals with Severe Depression

  • Siroj Sorajjakool
  • Victoria Aja
  • Beverly Chilson
  • Johnny Ramírez-Johnson
  • Art Earll


This qualitative study explores the role of spirituality and meaning among 15 participants suffering from severe depression. During the time of this study, all the participants were in treatment at Loma Linda University Behavioral Medicine Center. The emerging themes are: (1) depression creates a sense of spiritual disconnection. Participants indicated feeling disconnected from God, the community, and oneself; (2) spirituality plays an important role in coping with the pain of depression; (3) there exists a deep yearning for a sense of meaning and a struggle to make sense of one’s pain; and (4) coming to terms with one’s circumstances and one’s depression at some level assists in the healing process.


Spirituality Meaning Depression Disconnection Acceptance 


  1. Beck, A. T. (1967). Depression: Clinical, experimental, and theoretical aspects. New York: Harper and Row.Google Scholar
  2. Cotton, S., Larking, E., Hoopes, A., Cromer, B. A., & Rosenthal, S. L. (2005). The impact of adolescent spirituality on depressive symptoms and health risk. The Journal of Adolescent Health, 36(6), 529.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Dalmida, S. G. (2006). Spirituality, mental health, physical health and health-related quality of life among women with HIV/AIDS: Integrating spirituality into mental health care. Issues in Mental Health Nursing, 27, 185–198.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Doolittle, B. R., & Farrell, M. (2004). The association between spirituality and depression in an urban clinic. Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, 6(3), 114–118.Google Scholar
  5. Frick, E., Riedner, C., Fegg, M., & Borasio, G. D. (2006). A clinical interview assessing cancer patients’ spiritual needs and preferences. European Journal of Care, 15, 238–243.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Hills, J., Paice, J. A., Cameron, J. R., & Shott, S. (2005). Spirituality and distress in palliative care consultation. Journal of Palliative Medicine, 8(4), 782–788.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Hodges, S. (2002). Mental health, depression, and dimension of spirituality and religion. Journal of Adult Development, 9(2), 109–115.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. James, W. (1997). The varieties of religious experience: A study in human nature. New York: Touchstone Book.Google Scholar
  9. Koenig, H. G., George, L. K., & Siegler, I. C. (1988). The use of religion and other emotion-regulating coping strategies among older adults. Gerontologist, 28(3), 303–310.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  10. Mascaro, N., & Rosen, D. H. (2006). The role of existential meaning as a buffer against stress. Journal of Humanistic Psychology, 46(2), 168–190.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. McCoubrie, R., & Davies, A. (2006). Is there a correlation between spirituality and anxiety and depression in patients with advanced cancer? Journal of Supportive Care in Cancer, 14(4), 379–385.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Mohr, W. K. (2006). Spiritual issues in psychiatric care. Perspective in Psychiatric Care, 42(3), 174–183.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Mueller, P. S., Plevak, D. J., & Rummas, T. A. (2001). Religions involvement, spirituality and medicine: Implication for clinical practice. Mayo Clinic Procedings 76, 1225–1235. Retrieved on September 31, 2006 URL
  14. National Institute of Mental Health (2003). Older adults: Depression and suicide facts. NIMH Publication No. 03-4593.Google Scholar
  15. Olszewski, M. E. (1995). The effect of religious coping on depression and anxiety in adolescence. Dissertation Abstracts International: Section B: The Sciences and Engineering, Vol 55(9-B), Mar 1995, pp. 4144.Google Scholar
  16. Puchalski, C. M. (1999). Touching the spirit: The essence of healing. [WWWdocument]. URL
  17. Ryan, N. D. (2005). Treatment of depression in children and adolescents. Lancet, 366, 933–940.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Seligman, M. (1990). Learned optimism: How to change your mind and your life. New York: Pocket Books.Google Scholar
  19. Wink, P., Dillon, M., & Larsen, B. (2005). Religion as moderator of the depression–health connection. Sage Publication, 27(2), 197–220.Google Scholar
  20. Wright, L., Frost, C., & Wisecarver, S. (1993). Church attendance, meaningfulness of religion, and depressive symptomatology among adolescents. Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 22(5), 559–568.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Siroj Sorajjakool
    • 1
  • Victoria Aja
    • 1
  • Beverly Chilson
    • 2
  • Johnny Ramírez-Johnson
    • 1
  • Art Earll
    • 2
  1. 1.School of ReligionLoma Linda UniversityLoma LindaUSA
  2. 2.Behavioral Medicine CenterLoma Linda UniversityLoma LindaUSA

Personalised recommendations