We Still Buy the Lie That Chemical Imbalances Cause Depression

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From Quartz: Despite its inaccuracy, the chemical imbalance theory of mental illness continues to persist in public consciousness. The prevalence of this myth may be in part responsible for rising rates of depression.

“Prozac, approved by the US Food and Drug Administration 30 years ago today, on Dec. 29, 1987, marked the first in a wave of widely prescribed antidepressants that built on and capitalized off this theory. No wonder: Taking a drug to tweak the biological chemical imbalances in the brain makes intuitive sense. But depression isn’t caused by a chemical imbalance, we don’t know how Prozac works, and we don’t even know for sure if it’s an effective treatment for the majority of people with depression.

One reason the theory of chemical imbalances won’t die is that it fits in with psychiatry’s attempt, over the past half century, to portray depression as a disease of the brain, instead of an illness of the mind. This narrative, which depicts depression as a biological condition that afflicts the material substance of the body, much like cancer, divorces depression from the self. It also casts aside the social factors that contribute to depression, such as isolation, poverty, or tragic events, as secondary concerns. Non-pharmaceutical treatments, such as therapy and exercise, often play second fiddle to drugs.”

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6 COMMENTS

  1. Good point Oldhead!

    Part of the reason folks love the idea that “depression” is a brain disease instead of plain old unhappiness is they get the status of an invalid. “Be nice to me. I’m not unhappy, but REALLY sick! My doctor said so.”

    They don’t have to consider leaving an emotionally abusive relationship, take up exercising, figure out why they hate their job, or make new friends. Just pop a new pill for happiness.

  2. The chemical imbalance always makes me chuckle and is probably one that shrinks no longer want to talk about.
    They hope it will go away quietly.
    Yes we know we have chemicals in our brains. We need you to measure the “imbalance”.
    We need you to prove that I am missing serotonin, NOT some random studies, but ME personally.
    Identify and prove to me that the “chemicals” came before the “depression”, and not after.
    We need the cause. Was it thoughts? Ohh well, for that, we have risperadol. If I use it long enough, it might get rid of the ability to think. Great fix woohoo. Great science.
    And that numbing sensation from ad’s? Or the intense jittery feeling? What is that from? A chemical imbalance? Ohh, you forgot to check my imbalance before and after the drug?
    Again, great science.

    No one would mind the attempt in science, the dabbling. But to create harmful crap, based on some way out there theories and have the FDA pass this junk for consumption? To advertise fake theories?
    The first and foremost thing that leads to meds is the DSM, where everything overlaps the longer you go. One’s diseases in psychiatry increase rather rapidly the longer one talks or uses their eyes. It kind of can coincide with meds too.
    That hmm “flat” effect? I have seen a lot of flat effects or insane smiles on shrinks.
    One looking at another . One has a diploma.
    I believe psychiatry is looking for drugs that take people’s ability to think or reason, that is the ultimate aim.
    Usually the people who partake in getting rid of certain people are not aware that it is happening.
    And no, I am not a conspiracy type.

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