Traumatic Life Events, Not Genetics or Chemical Imbalance Cause Depression and Anxiety


Researchers from three U.K. Universities analyzed the responses of 32,827 people to online questionnaires, finding that  social deprivation and traumatic or abusive life-experiences strongly predicted higher levels of anxiety and depression. However, they note, the relationship between trauma and psychopathology were strongly mediated by psychological processes such as lack of adaptive coping, rumination and self-blame. The study concludes “These results support a significant revision of the biopsychosocial model, as psychological processes determine the causal impact of biological, social, and circumstantial risk factors on mental health.”

Article →

Kinderman, P., Schwannauer, M., Pontin, E., Tai, S.; Psychological Processes Mediate the Impact of Familial Risk, Social Circumstances and Life Events on Mental Health. PLoS One. 8(10): e76564. Online October 16, 2013. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0076564

Of further interest:
Most Depression and Anxiety are Situational, not ‘Chemical Imbalance’ (AllVoices)

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Kermit Cole
Kermit Cole, MFT, founding editor of Mad in America, works in Santa Fe, New Mexico as a couples and family therapist. Inspired by Open Dialogue, he works as part of a team and consults with couples and families that have members identified as patients. His work in residential treatment — largely with severely traumatized and/or "psychotic" clients — led to an appreciation of the power and beauty of systemic philosophy and practice, as the alternative to the prevailing focus on individual pathology. A former film-maker, he has undergraduate and master's degrees in psychology from Harvard University, as well as an MFT degree from the Council for Relationships in Philadelphia. He is a doctoral candidate with the Taos Institute and the Free University of Brussels. You can reach him at [email protected].


    • Cannot say, I read this as saying that people who had a lack of adaptive coping, rumination and self-blame were more likely to experience depression and anxiety as opposed to a supposed chemical imbalance.

      The paragraph shown is not clearly written. Would benefit by more plain and simple language. I’m still not entirely sure I’ve gotten it correct after reading it 3-4 times!

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  1. I was dealing with the cover up (unbeknownst to me at the time) of a trusted PCP’s husband’s “bad fix” on a broken bone, via a bad drug cocktail including a NSAI, an opioid, and an antidepressant (the latter two have a major drug interaction warning). The adverse effects of this bad drug cocktail were then misdiagnosed as bipolar (according to my medical records, and the DSM) based on a list of lies and gossip from people I have medical evidence sexually molested my child and their pastor friend who denied my daughter a baptism, at the exact moment the second plane hit the second World Trade Center building. Because I was disgusted by 9.11.2001. 9.11.2001 was disgusting.

    People do sometimes suffer from legitimate real life concerns and/or disgust. And the antidepressants (especially when given in conjunction with other meds that have major drug interaction warnings with them) do cause adverse effects. I agree, “the real travesty was that” doctors defamed and discredited me to my family based upon “the medical [chemical] imbalance myth.” And it’s “almost unfathomable” the US psychiatric industry has made millions of children sick in the exact same way, merely for profit.

    The medical evidence of how to harm patients in this manner was all out there in 2000. What the psychiatric industry has historically done to take away the rights of decent, innocent people for unethical “professionals” is disgusting. And the fact they have, and are continuing to harm, millions of children in this exact same way is simply unconsciencable.

    I agree, it’s absurd medical articles are just now finally being published pointing out that not all real life problems are caused by “chemical imbalances in the brain.” The psychiatric industry has been behaving as completely “mindless” for decades.

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  2. Agree with the previous comments. When will we ever use our basic logic and common sense and stop being susceptible to brainwashing? Of course, our adverse experiences make us suffer! It’s perfectly normal and natural to experience all sorts of pain and distress when we go and after we have gone trough adversities and traumas. For God’s sake, why do we need a study or a research to understand something that is common sense?! Emotional pain is not an “illness”! It is part of human existence. Yes, we need to attend to our pain and heal our wounds, but not pathologize them by calling them “illnesses”.

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