Depression is a Chemical Imbalance… or Not

Depression is caused by a chemical imbalance in the brain and antidepressants work to correct that imbalance, right? Not so fast. A chemical imbalance is a theory of depression — and one that drug companies who make SSRIs push — but that doesn’t make it fact.

An article in the December issue of PLoS Medicine examines direct-to-consumer ads for SSRIs that make this claim. Using existing medical research, the authors conclude “[T]here is no such thing as a scientifically established correct ‘balance’ of serotonin….” and that there is “a growing body of medical literature casting doubt on the serotonin hypothesis.” In fact, they say that “Not a single peer-reviewed article … support[s] claims of serotonin deficiency in any mental disorder.”

Hopefully Shrinkette will give us her insight into this topic. The Wall Street Journal weighs in with Some Drugs Work to Treat Depression, But it isn’t Clear How.