The Link Between Depression and Serotonin Questioned

Source: Joanna Moncrieff and Mark Horowitz, "Depression is probably not caused by a chemical imbalance in the brain – new study," The Conversation, 20 July 2022.

[I'm posting this to demonstrate that even in areas where people have been certain of the answers, they find that things are not always as they seem to be - jwh]

"... many started taking antidepressants because they believed they had something wrong with their brain that required an antidepressant to put right. In the period of this marketing push, antidepressant use climbed dramatically, and they are now prescribed to one in six of the adult population in England, for example."

"SSRIs temporarily increase the availability of serotonin in the brain, but this does not necessarily imply that depression is caused by the opposite of this effect. ... n fact, drug trials show that antidepressants are barely distinguishable from a placebo (dummy pill) when it comes to treating depression. Also, antidepressants appear to have a generalised emotion-numbing effect which may influence people’s moods, although we do not know how this effect is produced or much about it."

"One area of research we included was research comparing levels of serotonin and its breakdown products in the blood or brain fluid. Overall, this research did not show a difference between people with depression and those without depression."

"Research on the most commonly investigated serotonin receptor suggested either no difference between people with depression and people without depression, or that serotonin activity was actually increased in people with depression – the opposite of the serotonin theory’s prediction."

"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."

"Stressful life events in themselves, however, exerted a strong effect on people’s subsequent risk of developing depression."

"If antidepressants exert their effects as placebos, or by numbing emotions, then it is not clear that they do more good than harm."

"It is important that people know that the idea that depression results from a “chemical imbalance” is hypothetical. And we do not understand what temporarily elevating serotonin or other biochemical changes produced by antidepressants do to the brain."

"For it is written: "I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, And bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent." Where is the wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the disputer of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of this world?" (I Corinthians 1:19-20).

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