Recent studies have come out exposing the truth about depression and its relationship with low serotonin levels not being connected which brings to light that chemical imbalances are a myth. This brings to question then SSRIs and what their function is if not to regulate the chemical imbalance. It is interesting that a study has come out showing that those who take antidepressants are more likely to have a relapse of depression especially if they get off the medication.
Tulsi Gabbard tweeted on August 4th (and posted on Instagram) that Big Pharma brings in billion dollars based on the chemical imbalance lie. Apparently, this has been a hot topic debate for years that is now gaining some notice.
The Chemical Imbalance Theory
The theory has no scientific founding. It first began with the serotonin theory, also claimed to be a myth, which was released in 1980 and coincided with the magic cure that can be found by using SSRIs which was then pushed by big pharmacies from 1990 to now. They pushed that depression was a result of an imbalance or low serotonin but this was not backed up by real psychiatrists. If a psychiatrist does use the term chemical imbalance it is either one of two things 1) there are ties to big pharamacy or 2) they use it to "make their patients feel better and save time".
SSRIs and Their Effect
The SSRIs or selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors are meant to do as they are called but if there is no serotonin to uptake then what do they do? It was founded that possible long-term use of the medication led to the opposite effect within the brain. Meaning it caused lower serotonin levels over time instead of increasing like it was doing in the short term. In a recent study, they examined low serotonin levels in hundreds of people but did not see that it correlated with depression. In fact, depression is likely linked to stressors. In Dr. Pies article of exposing the myths of the chemical imbalance theory and who really pushed the narrative it shares a published line from the APA Board of Trustees in 1978 shows what the "official" on the cause of psychological disorders is, "Psychiatric disorders result from the complex interaction of physical, psycho-logical, and social factors and treatment may be directed toward any or all three of these areas". He claims just before sharing this that there is still nonconclusive evidence for the catecholamine hypothesis meaning a decrease in norepinephrine. He adds that even in the book The American Psychiatric Publishing Textbook of Clinical Psychiatry the chapter on the cause of mood does not mention the chemical imbalance theory only the "bio-psycho-social" terms which are presented in the APA's quote from 1978. Dr. Pies however briefly mentions that "whatever biological mechanisms, the clinical reality is that antidepressants are effective in many patients with severe, acute major depression". If genetics and physiology are causing depression symptoms then antidepressants should help according to him which supports the APA quote from 1978. He debunk the myths that brought forth the lies of chemical imbalance causing depression and that no true psychiatrist would believe the theory but then if antidepressants are taken to help boost serotonin levels or norepinephrine levels (SNRIs) then how are they to help if there is nothing to help? There are current studies being done on ways to improve depression with anti-inflammation agents. This coincides well with the physical effects of depression alongside the theory regarding nerve growth factors. Going back to the idea of stressors affecting mood. There are now more studies coming out that there may be a correlation based on environmental and sociocultural factors.
If one takes SSRIs or any antidepressant there seems to be a period of withdrawal symptoms that include "insomnia, depression, suicidal ideation and physical symptoms" when the medication is stopped. The answer seems to either continue on the medicine or lower the doses in hopes withdrawal is not too bad. Knowing what is known now it will be interesting to see how doctors, psychiatrists, and Big Pharma themselves respond to the psychiatrists who have put time and effort into their studies.
Note: If you or someone you love is dealing with depression and on SSRIs or any antidepressants please discuss this with your medical advisor before taking yourself off them.