A recent study conducted by University College London claims to have determined that depression is not simply a chemical imbalance in the brain and that scientists actually have no idea how antidepressants work in the cases where they are actually effective.
The British Study says that one in six adults in England are currently prescribed antidepressants. The purported goal of these medications is to regulate serotonin levels, however, this new study suggests that low serotonin levels are not the true cause of depression but rather a byproduct.
Instead, the study claims that genuine depression is more likely caused by adverse life events, which tend to have a lasting effect if untreated psychologically.
The use of antidepressants is a trend that has thrived alongside the perpetuated theory that drugs establish correct levels of chemicals in the brain. Now, researchers are saying that the basis for these practices is unfounded.
“I think we can safely say that after a vast amount of research conducted over several decades, there is no convincing evidence that depression is caused by serotonin abnormalities, particularly by lower levels or reduced activity of serotonin,” said Joanna Moncrieff, a professor of psychiatry at UCL who authored the study.
“Many people take antidepressants because they have been led to believe their depression has a biochemical cause, but this research suggests this belief is not grounded in evidence,” Moncrieff explained.
“The popularity of the ‘chemical imbalance theory of depression has coincided with a huge increase in the use of antidepressants,”
Moncrieff also expressed her dismay that “thousands of people suffer from side-effects of antidepressants, including the severe withdrawal effects that can occur when people try to stop them, yet prescription rates continue to rise.”
“We believe this situation has been driven partly by the false belief that depression is due to a chemical imbalance… It is high time to inform the public that this belief is not grounded in science.”
The researchers involved in this report reviewed other studies regarding serotonin and depression and found no difference in levels between thousands of different people diagnosed with depression and healthy control participants.
In addition to that, they looked at studies where the serotonin levels were artificially lowered in hundreds of people by amino acid deprivation and the study found that it did not make them depressed.
The researchers noted that patients should not be informed that SSRIs can correct the problem when there is no proof that is the case. It is worth noting that experts have warned people against stopping their medication.
It is worth noting here that we are not offering medical advice, rather, we are covering an actual event taking place in our world that potentially has enormous implications.