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The "Chemical Imbalance" Myth


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A theory that is wrong is considered preferable to admitting our ignorance. – Elliot Vallenstein, Ph.D.

The idea that depression and other mental health conditions are caused by an imbalance of chemicals in the brain is so deeply ingrained in our psyche that it seems almost sacrilegious to question it.

Direct-to-consumer-advertising (DCTA) campaigns, which have expanded the size of the antidepressant market (Donohue et al., 2004), revolve around the claim that SSRIs (the most popular class of antidepressants) alleviate depression by correcting a deficiency of serotonin in the brain.

For example, Pfizer’s television advertisement for Zoloft states that “depression is a serious medical condition that may be due to a chemical imbalance”, and that “Zoloft works to correct this imbalance.”

Other SSRI advertising campaigns make similar claims. The Effexor website even has a slick video explaining that “research suggests an important link between depression and an imbalance in some of the brain’s chemical messengers. Two neurotransmitters believed to be involved in depression are serotonin and norepinephrine.” The video goes on to explain that Effexor works by increasing serotonin levels in the synapse, which is “believed to relieve symptoms of depression over time.”

These days serotonin is widely promoted as the way to achieve just about every personality trait that is desirable, including self-confidence, creativity, emotional resilience, success, achievement, sociability and high energy. And the converse is also true. Low serotonin levels have been implicated in almost every undesirable mental state and behavioral pattern, such as depression, aggressiveness, suicide, stress, lack of self-confidence, failure, low impulse control, binge eating and other forms of substance abuse.

In fact, the idea that low levels of serotonin cause depression has become so widespread that it’s not uncommon to hear people speak of the need to “boost their serotonin levels” through exercise, herbal supplements or even sexual activity. The “chemical imbalance” theory is so well established that it is now part of the popular lexicon.

It is, after all, a neat theory. It takes a complex and heterogeneous condition (depression) and boils it down to a simple imbalance of two to three neurotransmitters (out of more than 100 that have been identified), which, as it happens, can be “corrected” by long-term drug treatment. This clear and easy-to-follow theory is the driving force behind the $12 billion worth of antidepressant drugs sold each year.

However, there is one (rather large) problem with this theory: there is absolutely no evidence to support it. Recent reviews of the research have demonstrated no link between depression, or any other mental disorder, and an imbalance of chemicals in the brain (Lacasse & Leo, 2005; (Valenstein, 1998).

The ineffectiveness of antidepressant drugs when compared to placebo cast even more doubt on the “chemical imbalance” theory. (See my recent articles Placebos as effective as antidepressants and A closer look at the evidence for more on this.)

Folks, at this point you might want to grab a cup of tea. It’s going to take a while to explain the history of this theory, why it is flawed, and how continues to persist in light of the complete lack of evidence to support it. I will try to be as concise as possible, but there’s a lot of material to cover and a lot of propaganda I need to disabuse you of.

Ready? Let’s start with a bit of history.

The History of the “Chemical Imbalance” Theory

The first antidepressant, iproniazid, was discovered by accident in 1952 after it was observed that some tubercular patients became euphoric when treated with this drug. A bacteriologist named Albert Zeller found that iproniazid was effective in inhibiting the enzyme monoamine oxydase. As its name implies, monoamine oxydase plays an essential role in inactivating monoamines such as epinephrine and norepinephrine. Thus, iproniazid raised levels of epinephrine and norepinephrine which in turn led to stimulation of the sympathetic nervous system – an effect thought to be responsible for the antidepressant action of the drug.

At around the same time, an extract from the plant Rauwolfia serpentina was introduced into western psychiatry. This extract had been used medicinally in India for more than a thousand years and was thought to have a calming effect useful to quiet babies, treat insomnia, high blood pressure, insanity and much more. In 1953 chemists at Ciba, a pharmaceutical company, isolated the active compound from this herb and called it reserpine.

In 1955 researchers at the National Institutes of Health reported that reserpine reduces the levels of serotonin in the brains of animals. It was later established that all three of the major biogenic amines in the brain, norepinephrine, serotonin, and dopamine, were all decreased by reserpine (again, in animals).

In animal studies conducted at around the same time, it was found that animals administered reserpine showed a short period of increased excitement and motor activity, followed by a prolonged period of inactivity. The animals often had a hunched posture and an immobility that was thought to resemble catatonia (Valenstein, 1998). Since reserpine lowered levels of serotonin, norepinephrine and dopamine, and caused the effects observed in animals, it was concluded that depression was a result of low levels of biogenic amines. Hence, the “chemical imbalance” theory is born.

However, it was later found that reserpine only rarely produces a true clinical depression. Despite high doses and many months of treatment with reserpine, only 6 percent of the patients developed symptoms even suggestive of depression. In addition, an examination of these 6 percent of patients revealed that all of them had a previous history of depression. (Mendels & Frazer, 1974) There were even reports from a few studies that reserpine could have an antidepressant effect (in spite of reducing levels of serotonin, norepinephrine and dopanmine).

As it turns out, that is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to revealing the inadequacies of the “chemical imbalance” theory.

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The Fatal Flaws of “Chemical Imbalance” Theory

As Elliot Valenstein Ph.D., Professor Emeritus of psychology and neuroscience at Michigan University, points out in his seminal book Blaming the Brain, “Contrary to what is often claimed, no biochemical, anatomical or functional signs have been found that reliably distinguish the brains of mental patients.” (p. 125)

In his book, Valenstein clearly and systematically dismantles the chemical imbalance theory:

  1. Reducing levels of norepinephrine, serotonin and dopamine does not actually produce depression in humans, even though it appeared to do so in animals.
  2. The theory cannot explain why there are drugs that alleviate depression despite the fact that they have little or no effect on either serotonin or norepinephrine.
  3. Drugs that raise serotonin and norepinephrine levels, such as amphetamine and cocaine, do not alleviate depression.
  4. No one has explained why it takes a relatively long time before antidepressant drugs produce any elevation of mood. Antidepressants produce their maximum elevation of serotonin and norepinephrine in only a day or two, but it often takes several weeks before any improvement in mood occurs.
  5. Although some depressed patients have low levels of serotonin and norepinephrine, the majority do not. Estimates vary, but a reasonable average from several studies indicates that only about 25 percent of depressed patients actually have low levels of these metabolites.
  6. Some depressed patients actually have abnormally high levels of serotonin and norepinephrine, and some patients with no history of depression at all have low levels of these amines.
  7. Although there have been claims that depression may be caused by excessive levels of monoamine oxydase (the enzyme that breaks down serotonin and norepinephrine), this is only true in some depressed patients and not in others.
  8. Antidepressants produce a number of different effects other than increasing norepinephrine and serotonin activity that have not been accounted for when considering their activity on depression.

Another problem is that it is not now possible to measure serotonin and norepinephrine in the brains of patients. Estimates of brain neurotransmitters can only be inferred by measuring the biogenic amine breakdown products (metabolites) in the urine and cerebrospinal fluid. The assumption underlying this measurement is that the level of biogenic amine metabolites in the urine and cerebrospinal fluid reflects the amount of neurotransmitters in the brain. However, less than one-half of the serotonin and norepinephrine metabolites in the urine or cerebrospinal fluid come from the brain. The other half come from various organs in the body. Thus, there are serious problems with what is actually being measured.

Finally, there is not a single peer-reviewed article that can be accurately cited to support claims of serotonin deficiency in any mental disorder, while there are many articles that present counterevidence. Furthermore, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) does not list serotonin as the cause of any mental disorder. The American Psychiatric Press Textbook of Clinical Psychiatry addresses serotonin deficiency as an unconfirmed hypothesis, stating “Additional experience has not confirmed the monoamine depletion hypothesis” (Lacasse & Leo, 2005).

When all of this evidence is taken in full, it should be abundantly clear that depression is not caused by a chemical imbalance.

But, as Valenstein shrewdly observes, “there are few rewards waiting for the person who claims that “the emperor is really nude” or who claims that we really do not know what causes depression or why an antidepressant sometimes helps to relieve this condition.”

How Have We Been Fooled?

There are several reasons the idea that mental disorders are caused by a chemical imbalance has become so widespread (and none of them have anything to do with the actual scientific evidence, as we have seen).

It is known that people suffering from mental disorders and especially their families prefer a diagnosis of “physical disease” because it does not convey the stigma and blame commonly associated with “psychological problems”. A “physical disease” may suggest a more optimistic prognosis, and mental patients are often more amenable to drug treatment when they are told they have a physical disease.

Patients are highly susceptible to Direct-to-Consumer-Advertising (DCTA). It has been reported that patients are now presenting to their doctors with a self-described “chemical imbalance” (Kramer, 2002). This is important because studies show that patients who are convinced they are suffering from a neurotransmitter defect are likely to request a prescription for antidepressants, and may be skeptical of physicians who suggest other interventions such as cognitive behavioral therapy (DeRubeis et al., 2005). It has also been shown that anxious and depressed patients “are probably more susceptible to the controlling influence of advertisements (Hollon MF, 2004).

The benefit of the chemical imbalance theory for insurance companies and the pharmaceutical industry is primarily economic. Medical insurers are primarily concerned with cost, and they want to discourage treatments (such as psychotherapy) that may involve many contact hours and considerable expense. Their control over payment schedules enables insurance companies to shift treatment toward drugs and away from psychotherapy.

The motivation of the pharmaceutical companies should be fairly obvious. As mentioned previously, the market for antidepressant drugs is now $12 billion. All publicly traded for-profit companies are required by law to increase the value of their investor’s stock. Perhaps it goes without saying, but it is a simple fact that pharmaceutical companies will do anything they legally (and sometimes illegally) can to maximize revenues.

Studies have shown that the advertisements placed by drug companies in professional journals or distributed directly to physicians are often exaggerated or misleading and do not accurately reflect scientific evidence (Lacasse & Leo, 2005). While physicians deny they are being influenced, it has been shown repeatedly that their prescription preferences are heavily affected by promotional material from drug companies (Moynihan, 2003). Research also suggests that doctors exposed to company reps are more likely to favor drugs over non-drug therapy, and more likely to prescribe expensive medications when equally effective but less costly ones are available (Lexchin, 1989). Some studies have even shown an association between the dose and response: in other words, the more contact between doctors and sales reps the more doctors latch on to the “commercial” messages as opposed to the “scientific” view of a product’s value (Wazana, 2000).

The motivation of psychiatrists to accept the chemical imbalance theory is somewhat more subtle. Starting around 1930, psychiatrists became increasingly aware of growing competition from nonmedical therapists such as psychologists, social workers and counselors. Because of this, psychiatrists have been attracted to physical treatments like drugs and electroshock therapy that differentiate them from nonmedical practitioners. Psychiatry may be the least respected medical specialty (U.S. General Accounting Office report). Many Americans rejected Fruedian talk therapy as quackery, and the whole field of psychiatry lacks the quality of research (randomized, placebo-controlled, double-blind experiments) that serves as the gold-standard in other branches of medicine.

Dr. Colin Ross, a psychiatrist, describes it this way:

“I also saw how badly biological psychiatrists want to be regarded as doctors and accepted by the rest of the medical profession. In their desire to be accepted as real clinical scientists, these psychiatrists were building far too dogmatic an edifice… pushing their certainty far beyond what the data could support.”

Of course there are also many “benefits” to going along with the conventional “chemical imbalance” theory, such as free dinners, symphony tickets, and trips to the Caribbean; consultancy fees, honoraria and stock options from the pharmaceutical companies; and a much larger, growing private practice as the $20 billion spent by drug companies on advertising brings patients to the office. Psychiatrists are just human, like the rest of us, and not many of them can resist all of these benefits.

In sum, the idea that depression is caused by a chemical imbalance is a myth. Pharmaceutical ads for antidepressants assert that depression is a physical diseases because that serves as a natural and easy segue to promoting drug treatment. There may well be biological factors which predispose some individuals toward depression, but predisposition is not a cause. The theory that mental disorders are physical diseases ignores the relevance of psychosocial factors and implies by omission that such factors are of little importance.

Stay tuned for future articles on the psychosocial factors of depression, the loss of sadness as a normal response to life, and the branding of new psychological conditions as a means of increasing drug sales.

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  1. When I was 18 years old, I was ‘depressed’ and suicidal and was diagnosed with clinical depression. I was prescribed Zoloft. I took one read at the side effects and decided there and then that I’d take my chances without it. I saw the therapist for a few months and lied that I was taking the medication and I was getting better. The truth was that I was just sad about being victimized at school and a break up in a relationship and was just really hormonal and angst as a teen. Yet this doctor thought it fine to diagnose a teenager with clinical depression and prescribe a dangerous drug without looking at all factors. Years later I’ve come to realize that I still do experience emotional lows and if anything is stressful in my life it becomes that much worse. I’ve realized however that it coincides with my period and premenstrual symptoms. My hormones. I recognize the cause as my bodies fluctuating hormones and know that it will pass. I do think it’s more probable that chemical/hormonal and other physiological imbalances can cause depression, anxiety etc but I’m not of the belief that that is the cause of every single case of depression and that anti-depressants is the answer for everything. I also think a lot of people are varying degrees of “sad” for reasons known to them but it’s easier to blame a physical cause than look at the true psychological cause and possible physiological cause. Perhaps it’s just that time of the month or low self esteem or the junk you’re eating. I’d much rather look at the problem holistically than jump to pharmaceuticals as a panacea.

    • Your comments are very honest and insightful. I agree with you in that some depressive type illnesses have a neurochemical, blood flow, or structural anomaly with corresponding abnormal endocrine (or neuroendocrine) functioning. I also agree that for many (majority) of people depression is psychological in nature and that no drug will ever be an antidepressant because in these cases it is an emotional, perception, thought problem that increases due to rumination.

    • There is some evidence that Hitler had Parkinson’s.

      It sounds as if you have a really ugly attitude toward the mentally ill.

  2. Your article is completely contradictory. You state in various places that brain neurotransmitters cannot be accurately measured. Yet in other places you mention the levels in relation to a diagnosis – for instance “Some depressed patients actually have abnormally high levels of serotonin and norepinephrine” If neurotransmitter levels cannot be measured then arguing depression is not related to these is equally silly as saying it is.

  3. Biochemical imbalances does not necessarily occur in the brain, but throughout the whole body. If the body lacks the necessary energy called adenosine triphosphate, derived mainly from glucose in the food, it cannot convert tryptophan found in food into serotonin. Studies have show that people who suffer from insulin resistance – either diabetic or pre-diabetic – have unstable blood sugar levels affecting the brain. When deprived of a steady amount of glucose, the brain will trigger the release of stress hormone – adrenaline and/or cortisol – which form the symptoms of uncontrollable mood disorders. Please read: Drug Addiction is a Nutritional Disorder

  4. Placebos have been shown to be effective in treating depression however it is ‘unethical’ to give a placebo. On the other hand, dangerous drugs with scant evidence of efficacy flood the legal drug market.

  5. I wanted to let you guys know about a group called TrueHope, which has developed nutritional support for both drug-withdrawal and to help fix any nutritional deficiencies. They have helped over 200,000 people live pill-free lives and feel A LOT better. They also have done several clinic trials using their nutrition on people labelled with depression, anxiety, PTSD etc. with wonderful results. check them out at Truehope.com

    • I ended up in another psych ER last month for suicidal thoughts (mostly by personal matters) but a really good psychiatrist mentioned that program to me and the fact that nutrition has a lot to do with it.

      If people is the middle ages were able to get by without them, why can’t we? Don’t get me wrong though, I take Zoloft and Lithium for MDD and Bipolar II, and I’m finally done with my suicidal thoughts.
      Thank you

  6. You are correct but missing the information on why.

    Fifty years ago engineers discovered a previously unknown problem with human physiology when it caused mental breaks for office workers. The cubicle was designed to stop believed-harmless episodes of psychotic-like confusion by 1968.

    Understand, they didn’t cause the problem they created a situation that showed it existed. It has always existed. Stories of ‘spontaneous remissions’ in scholarly books on the history of mental illness show, unrealized by the authors, that Subliminal Distraction filled mad houses in London 400 years ago. (There were no drugs or treatments 400 years ago. All recoveries were spontaneous remissions.)

    Today computers require the same level of mental investment as office workers must use so the mental break causing design mistake can be made almost anywhere.

    Everyone aware of it believes the problem only happens in incorrectly designed large, high traffic, crowded business offices. It’s a problem of human physiology not offices.

    Light exposure, too little to cause the full mental break will cause symptoms of fear, panic, anxiety, depression, and eventually thoughts of suicide.

    The problem arises from the suppression of the vision startle reflex in a location with detectable movement in peripheral vision. That causes repeating subliminal failed attempts to execute the vision startle reflex. Visit VisionAndPsychosis.Net for the full explanation of the problem.

    Because this is a normal feature of everyone’s physiology of sight I can produce depression with a physical experiment. … Yes I am saying I can cause psychiatric symptoms, depression, essentially on command with enough Subliminal Distraction exposure. … Anyone who can perform my demonstration of subliminal sight and habituation in peripheral vision can successfully perform the experiment. The demonstration shows the ability to suppress the vision startle reflex. (Link at the top of my Home page.)

    I do not publish the experiment on site for obvious reasons. If allowed to run too long it would cause the full mental break. I believe this is the long sought cause of college suicides, when students manage to accidentally create the design mistake and exposure peaks during times of intense study.

    This phenomenon explains much of the “mystery” of mental illness including why mental illness often starts in late adolescence and why the drugs don’t work.

    Psychiatrists are unaware engineers ever found or solved the problem and are mistaking chronic Subliminal Distraction outcomes for mental illness. No one screens for it before beginning treatment. (See my wife’s hospital record on site, her episode was mistaken for schizophrenia.)

    When the episode spontaneously remits after exposure stops the doctor and the subject believe that drugs or talk therapy cured their psychosis.

    There is no treatment possible. The episode will remit when exposure is stopped if done quickly enough. There may be no possible help for long term exposure victims. But depressive episodes or panic attacks would stop even for the severely mentally disabled Subliminal Distraction victims. But it is possible they would never recover the mental capacity they once had.

    Visit VisionAndPsychosis.Net or send an email for the instructions, precautions, and warning.

    You can use the Wayback Machine to show I began my project in the fall of 2002. There is a link to a forum post, 2002, on the bottom of my home page where I was accused of being an attorney trying to get information for a lawsuit. That post also shows when I began. Designers and engineers do not want to discuss the problem. No one wants to make the career ending mistake of revealing information that starts a flood of lawsuits against customers or employers.

  7. Chris,
    Thank you so so much for writing this! I have at least 6 family members that have been taking psychotropic medications for depression and other problems for decades, and they all continue to go through cycles of worsening; never getting better. They refuse to listen to me talk about how the medications are actually blocking them from healing and what they need to do in order to obtain permanent healing.
    I know that it took a lot of time and work for you to gather all the data and historical information in order to put it into one article and I greatly appreciate it; for I spent months searching for the facts about psychotropic medications in order to support the Truth that “chemical imbalance” is NOT the cause of emotional suffering nor dysfunction/”mental illness”/sin. In addition, psychotropic medications actually block permanent healing, not just temporary block feeling bad. I have sent your article to my mother in the hopes that my family will learn the Truth.
    From my experiences as a counselor, many people are unfortunately afraid to stop their medications because they are afraid of suffering, and even more afraid of suffering even more, because they believe lies about what is emotional suffering, what causes emotional suffering, and how to obtain healing for it. I know that fear is always the absence of Love (for ourselves and for others) caused by lies we believe, but few people know and understand this. All my clients for the 10 years that I was in private practice, who were not afraid, were able to permanently stop their psychotropic medications after I taught them the Truth about the psychotropic medications and how to obtain permanent healing for all so called “mental illness”.
    Anyone who has ever taken psychotropic medications knows that they do not heal anything and we always grow worse and have to increase the dosage and/or change the medications, making someone else very rich. As we have heard, the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over wanting different results.
    I pray to Jesus Christ our God that everyone will want these Truths that you have written. God bless you and your family.
    Thank you,

  8. This article hits the nail right on the head.

    I suffered from depression for 11 years. It got so bad that at one point I wrote a letter to myself that I would try ANYTHING for one year and if I was still depressed, I would kill myself.

    First thing I tried was antidepressants.

    That didn’t go over so well.

    I then had problems getting OFF the antidepressants, which is a whole other story.

    But, what is interesting, is I did use amino acids and supplements to “boost neurotransmitters” in my brain. With B Vitamins and Tryptophan, I was able to get off my antidepressant in a few weeks.

    I used amino acids for a long time and I definitely felt the effects. Not only that, but hundreds of people that I have talked to have felt positive effects as well.

    Now I don’t take any amino acids. Only magnesium some nights, fish oil, and B Vitamins. It got to the point where my brain was ok and I was restored back into balance. If I do get really bad, I can take a niacin or take tryptophan.

    My question is this: When a person is so run down from chronic depression, anxiety, and the stress this produces, why have I seen such dramatic results using supplements and foods that “boost” these neurotransmitters?

    What about the connection with Vitamin B3 and B6 in the synthesis of serotonin?

    Why did I feel such a dramatic effect with taking Tryptophan?

    There is certainly a giant myth out there and antidepressants are WAY too commonly prescribed. However, I have to thank the results of nutrient therapy and using supplements to get my “brain back in balance” to my success.

    As you can see, I am still alive.

  9. “Reducing levels of norepinephrine, serotonin and dopamine does not actually produce depression in humans, even though it appeared to do so in animals.””

    As someone with a background in animal research, this bothered me. The reason we use animals for testing, Chris, is because they have a lot of the same biochemical pathways as us humans. Often when a drug is first introduced, clinical trials on humans are considered too risky and unethical. This is why we rely on results from homologous organisms, to understand the effects of these drugs. I’m positive that if (and when) large scale clinical trials are conducted on humans, to test the association between depression and neurochemical imbalance, you will see an association in humans as well.

    Thanks again for the informative article. The legitimacy of neurochemical treatment is indeed controversial. Overgeneralizing and quote-mining however is only likely to create further confusion, especially for those that urgently need help.

    • Animal testing is worthless. For instance:

      Dogs and cats don’t get poison ivy. The active ingredient, urushiol, is highly allergenic to most humans and in primates in general. Applying a product to animals’ skin is not a valid test.

      Many years ago I read in a mycology book that in the old days folks used to test wild mushrooms on their dogs. I’m not finding anything about it online. I did find out that some mushrooms are poisonous to dogs but not cats. Trying a food on animals is not a valid test.

      In 2006, Six clinical drug trial participants suffered violent reactions to TGN1412, a new immune system boosting drug. The subjects were only given the equivalent of 1/500th the safe dose for “non-human primates.” The test subjects suffered searing pain and multiple organ failure within a few hours. The drug had been tested successfully in non-human primates, macaques. Giving a drug to animals is not a valid test.

      Many substances that don’t bother us are harmful to dogs and cats. Aspirin, lilies, onions… the list goes on and on. I submit that hundreds of lifesaving drugs never make it past animal testing.

  10. I did not read the entire article but off the bat, there was something I wanted to clarify.

    Your claim that ‘drugs that raise serotonin like amphetamines do not alleviate depression’ is over-generalized and incorrect. Amphetamines are known to increase dopamine levels by inhibiting reuptake. Chronically high dopamine levels cause symptoms like insomnia, and poor appetite. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter known to be produced during sleep. It is derived from amino acids like theanine and tryptophan.
    You see, when an individual is chronically depleted of proper sleep, and or essential amino acids such as tryptophan (as often caused by amphetamine use), serotonin levels actually decrease in the brain. This inturn causes symptoms like depression, anxiety and aggressiveness.

    I know this because I am actually prescribed amphetamines to treat attention deficit. In addition, I have a degree in nutritional sciences

  11. MAA

    I cant find your post but, it came through as an email…

    No one has the answers to cure feelings, but one thing is for sure, drugging people and messing about with their brains is far from any answer, regardless of the many who claim these drugs work, the truth and glaring fact is, many, many more claim they do not and it is those people who are overlooked as is also their being overlooked that is also swept under the carpet.

    No one can tell you how you feel nor how to `get over it` any mentally charged problems are individual to you and only you can identify them and work towards alleviating them. – which of course is easier said than done.
    Common sense in many cases deems environment and situation, when did you start feeling this way?, did a situation trigger these feelings?, do you feel better at certain times?, it sounds clinical but, it isnt.
    To seek the reason is to hopefully identify and work on, there really is no other way.

    I am happy to chat with you any time

  12. I have had clinical depression My entire 60 years , It is genetic – GrandMa had it and so did My Mother then I passed it down to My Daughter.

    Neurochemical imbalances are real although it is true that their is NO known way in science to test the actual neurochemicals in the human brain. I worked in the medical field for 35 years and well verses in the human sciences.

    I have looked at both sides of treatment that is medication and natural . Amino acids are the building blocks of all neurochemicals and I do believe that to varying degrees eating certain foods can change a persons mood. Been there done , I have experimented on Myself for decades.

    Exercise is also beneficial as it raised natural endorphins created in Our brains. I strongly suggest that anyone suffering from depression etc should do themselves a favor and read all the many articles on depression and neurochemistry then judge for themsevles.

    My now retired spychologist use to say the hardest thing to accomplish is to change the way We think. Again been there done that and yes it was most difficult. In My opinion genetics play a roll in mental illness and I believe from personal experience that certain foods and excersise wtih a touch of cognitive behaviour will help to balance neurochemicals which I stronly believe become imbalanced.

    Surf the web and read all the articles You have nothing to lose and its free.

  13. Chris, please explain to me how are drug companies spending 20 billion on advertising in a 12 billion antidepressant drug industry.

  14. Hi,
    My name is Rebecca, having suffered from major anxiety in my life. I would like to say this. I have taken SSRi’s which helped me.

    I attended weekly Gestalt psychotherapy for 15 years.

    Also I have to agree with Kathleen DeMaisons when I have tried to eat low carb I do become a little anxious, as soon as I stop low carbing I feel fine again.

    I believe it is irresponsible to completely write drug therapy off. I understand you are saying it ruins some peoples lives, however it also saves some peoples lives!

    Some people only need therapy or hypnosis.

    However for me the combination of drugs, diet and therapy was the best combination.


  15. Hi Chris,
    I am not a doctor so can only share what has happened to me. I had a cocaine overdose at age 23. The doctor that saw me told me that do to this, there was a chemical imbalance in my brain that caused me to not be able to sleep. So at 23, I was started on a SSRI anti-depressant. Thru the years, anger turned to rages and every so often the doc would change my medication to a different anti-depressant. I would go into withdrawals and then the “new type” would seem to work again. It was the same spin that Miss Diagnosed described repeated over and over in my life. The rages continued…had no idea why.
    I am now 57 years old. I have been on these pills for 34 years. I moved down to Panama 3 years ago. The doctors down here are questionable to say the least. Since the scripts in North America cannot be gotten down here, my husband and I had to piecemeal my drug program to come the closest we could to N. Americas.
    The rages grew in size and number until I was suicidal and had thoughts of killing others. This scared me half to death and I came to a place where I could not trust myself. The picture that came to mind was hallucinated that the devil was snapping at me to consume me.
    The next morning, my husband discovered your website. He was afraid that I would not be willing to let the anti-depressants go because then I would become even more depressed. But I believed that what you were saying was too true. Since I was presently on a non addictive one called Stablon (even the name of it sounds appealing…) I stopped them and for the first time in 34 years, I tried life without an anti-depressant.
    Oh my gosh! The rages left. I was in peace inside and did not have that feeling that something was not right in me. Today I am free of these pills and the people that lied to me to make a profit. I think that back then the doctors probably really believed that they work but never the less they robbed 34 years of my life from me.
    At this time, I believe that the pills themselves caused the problem. I know that some will argue with me over this but the proof to me was the peace that flooded me shortly afterwards. I have dealt with the withdrawls of other SSRIs and they truly are a nightmare to come off of and only under a doctors care. The withdrawls will pass and you will see the world differently. We would never have questioned this if it was not for your website. A huge thank you for a new life for me, Chris! At 57, I am just beginning to live in sanity. Parents, raise your children to know that sometimes life sucks and sometimes it doesn’t. It is only the rhythm of life and to allow them to ebb and flow as part of the package that life provides. Only then, can they quit searching for a “happy pill” that will only destroy them and begin to live on life’s terms and not their own.
    God bless the ones that are brave enough to tell their doctors NO MORE. Funny that the Big Pharmas do not push their poison on 3rd world people that have no money but only on the 1st world people that can afford to buy it. If they were that concerned about our health, they would equally market the distribution. Once again, follow the money trail.
    Thank you for listening to my take on this subject. I would have never questioned the pills that were suppose to make me happy as being the source of anger and destructive thoughts to myself and others. I haven’t had an angry thought since I quit them. Not even one. Heartbeat is down, blood pressure is down. I feel like I have been rescued, Chris. Come take a vacation in Panama. You will find me cool, calm and collected under a Papaya tree.
    India Sorenson Panama, Central America

    • Awesome story India! I could relate to what you said because my mother went through something similar and when she got off the meds she was fine. All of the symptoms of her “mental illness” were gone. She had been taking those pills for over 30 years and she was miserable. Somehow she weened herself off of them and suddenly she was bright, funny, witty, energetic and most importantly she was happy.

    • Wow!!! Good for you and I’m so happy you are finally ‘free’ and happy.

      Best wishes,

  16. https://healthmasters.com/products/5-htp

    I just hate seeing stuff like this.

    There is massive evidence that that low serotonin levels are a common consequence of modern living. The lifestyles and dietary practices of many people living in this stress-filled era results in lowered levels of serotonin within the brain. As a result, many people are overweight, crave sugar and other carbohydrates, experience bouts of depression, get frequent headaches, and have vague muscle aches and pain. All of these maladies are correctable by raising brain serotonin levels. The primary therapeutic applications for 5-HTP are low serotonin states listed below. Conditions associated with low serotonin levels helped by 5-HTP Depression Obesity Carbohydrate craving Bulimia Insomnia Narcolepsy Sleep apnea Migraine headaches Tension headaches Chronic daily headaches Premenstrual syndrome Fibromyalgia