Depression is the most common mental health concern in the general population. No doubt most of you have experienced some level of the disorder at some point in your life—the general sadness, low self-worth, disturbed sleep or appetite, poor concentration, diminished interest in joyful activities, and isolation from close relations—both friends and family. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that by the year 2020—not that far away—depression will rank second for global disease burdens, costing the world greatly both financially and through the personal toll this condition takes both on those afflicted and on those around them.

But what if most depression wasn’t actually clinically-based at all? What if this burdensome condition is really a symptom of a dis-eased soul?

In my work as a holistic psychologist and “soul specialist”, it has become absolutely clear to me that much of the depression that exists goes far deeper than most medication can treat. Research related to the effectiveness of antidepressant medication shows varying results, but it is most commonly thought that symptoms are relieved in only 40-50% of cases. Interestingly, research also indicates that symptoms improve in 20 to 40% of cases when a placebo (sugar pill) is used, showing that it is often the mindset that makes the difference. While the effectiveness of medication remains questionable, I can confidently state that I have yet to find a depressed soul who didn’t benefit from unburying the layers of the human condition that created the depression to begin with. In my experience, most depression is purely treatable given the right combination of approaches—and the right willingness to uncover and heal a suppressed soul.

What is the difference between depression and a suppressed soul? Clinically speaking, the symptoms are listed above. But suppression of the soul occurs when a person’s inner ally—the essence of who they are—isn’t aligned with how the person is living their life—whether by their own doing or by others’. For instance, consider domestic violence or other forms of abuse. The person being abused isn’t choosing to be mistreated, they simply don’t know how to get out of a situation that strips them of their sense of self. Their soul is suppressed by their circumstances which often prevents them from taking steps to get out—the exact scenario the abuser wants so they can maintain their abusive power. Meanwhile, the victim’s soul becomes increasingly suppressed and buried under the layers of abuse, which then manifests as depressive symptoms. Medication cannot take away the circumstances. It is only when the person is able to break free from a misaligned situation that their soul can feel liberated enough to realign their life in a healthier and more affirming way.

When a person is in a job or career that doesn’t feed their soul, their inner ally becomes “malnourished”, then misaligned from their intellectual/occupational needs. This causes inner disturbance, which is another form of suppression of the soul.

Drug or alcohol addiction also contributes to suppression of the soul. Most substance abusers try to treat situational depression and/or anxiety with their misuse of chemicals, only to find that they are suppressing their souls even further. The vicious cycle continues.

As a person becomes aware of same-sex preferences, but can’t love the person they want to love because of familial beliefs, religious restrictions, or fear of being ostracized others, their soul becomes suppressed. Or when the beliefs of religious upbringing no longer fit, but the individual is condemned for their “liberal” beliefs, suppression occurs. Perhaps you have different political views than your parents, spouse, children or friends, but your soul cannot live aligned with its truth so it becomes suppressed as a result.

You see, it isn’t always the presence of a chemical imbalance that causes depression; instead, it is more often the suppression of the soul that creates the discomfort. This is why “combination therapy”—the simultaneous treatment of depression through medication management and psychotherapy has always created more favorable results than medication alone. Add a bit of knowledge of the soul and how to heal the wounds it has incurred throughout the experience of the human condition, and the healing can go a very long way.

The human condition dishes out many difficult scenarios that misalign a person from their inner ally. I’ve come to believe that the biggest challenge in a person’s life is to find their truth and keep it—learning to live a life aligned with the needs of their soul. This is what I call radiant living. But because of societal, familial, or other expectations, we are constantly challenged to make and maintain a connection with our true self.

Do medications help a person feel more able to conquer their soul’s afflictions? In many cases, the answer is yes because with the assistance of medication, a person can feel more grounded and stabilized to do the work necessary to heal the soul. However, medication alone will never heal the wounds of the soul— healing strategies must go deeper than any form of psychotherapy to reach the depths necessary to heal the inner ally.

What would the world be like if each soul healed from their deepest wounds? If everyone could live their lives aligned with who they are at the deepest level, would depression exist? How would modern medicine look if the essence of who the patient is—rather than their clinical symptoms—was at the center of all treatment options? Would the soul need a pill to heal at all?

If I were to reword the earlier statement of the World Health Organization, I would posit that the number one global burden is the suppression of the soul, not the prevalence of depression. To me, this is the cause of not only most of mental health concerns but also the majority of the problems of the world, itself. If each person on the planet was aligned with their soul, this would be a much more peaceful and pleasant place to live.

Are you depressed? Or is your soul—the essence of who you really are—suppressed?

What will you do to empower and heal your soul?