For decades, researchers believed that depression was caused by a ‘chemical imbalance’ in the brain, i.e. an imbalance of a brain chemical called serotonin. However, new research indicates that may not be the case.
This article by Joanna Moncrieff and Mark Horowitz, writing for The Conversation, makes the following points:
- First proposed in the 1960s, the serotonin theory of depression started to be widely promoted by the pharmaceutical industry in the 1990s.
- The serotonin theory was also endorsed by institutions such as the American Psychiatric Association, which still supports the theory.
- Whilst many supported the serotonin theory, some leading psychiatrists believe there is no satisfactory evidence to support the idea.
- Two systematic reviews from 2006 and 2007, and a sample of the ten most recent studies (at the time the current research was conducted), found that lowering serotonin did not produce depression in hundreds of healthy volunteers.
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Source: Conversation, The