What if you went to a crime ridden street corner, suffering from depression, and were told that a certain drug could change how you felt about things? What if you went to your doctor and were told the same thing? While the corner drug dealer and your physician might have different drugs in mind, they are essentially offering a similar solution—putting you in a “drug-induced” state to minimize your negative symptoms. Doctors, the media, and society say there is a chemical imbalance which causes depression, but a depression chemical imbalance doesn’t exist, experts say.
Depression Chemical Imbalance Doesn’t Exist
Dr. Joanna Moncrieff, a mental health expert from the department of mental health services at University College in London is taking a quite non-politically-correct approach in characterizing anti-depressants and other mental health drugs as just another dependency.
She says that although doctors, the media, and society in general has latched on to the idea that depression and anxiety, for example, are just evidence of a “chemical imbalance” in the brain, there is no hard evidence to support this.
“Scientific research has not detected any reliable abnormalities of the serotonin system in people who are depressed.”
While many people are convinced this is indeed their problem and therefore are okay with being offered a drug to solve the “problem”, she says the problem is that we are minimizing the seriousness of taking drugs to solve a “mental disorder.”
It is frequently overlooked that drugs used in psychiatry are psychoactive drugs, like alcohol and cannabis. Psychoactive drugs make people feel different; they put people into an altered mental and physical state. They affect everyone, regardless of whether they have a mental disorder or not. Therefore, an alternative way of understanding how psychiatric drugs affect people is to look at the psychoactive effects they produce
She says that these drugs, like anti-depressants, often produce symptoms of other, illegal drugs. The difference—these are prescribed by medical professionals and marketed to the masses in a more acceptable way.
In decades past, there was a stigma associated with mental health drugs. While it’s debatable whether this stigma was justified, there’s little doubt that it did make people think twice about taking medication for depression.
Now, however, we are convinced that these drugs are correcting a defect in the brain. The drugs are correcting an “imbalance.” But the problem is, that imbalance has never been proven.
Sure, you can argue that your medication makes you feel better, but wouldn’t other psychoactive drugs make you feel better too?
Dr. Moncrieff isn’t suggesting that people take cheaper illegal drugs, since they may have similar effects, but instead wants people to really get real about their anti-depression or anti-anxiety medications– what are they really doing to themselves when they rise each morning and pop the same pill, occasionally having to up their dosage because their body has developed a tolerance.
And with the number of Americans on antidepressant medication estimated to be 1 in 10, perhaps a critical look at this drug trade is warranted.