The Chemical Imbalance Myth

Although each of the SSRI manufacturers admit they do not know how their respective drugs work, each claim that they help to correct a chemical imbalance of the brain. The assumption for each of these drugs is that if a person is depressed (each and every depressed person), they have a reduced number of neurotransmitters in the brain called serotonin.

As one well-known psychiatrist put it: “[SSRIs] are not correcting a biochemical imbalance, these drugs create severe imbalances in the brain. … The idea that human suffering, psychological suffering, is biochemical is strictly a promotional campaign, perhaps the most successful in the history of the world, created by the drug companies. We do not even have a technology, a scientific technology, for measuring what happens inside the brain … it is literally a fabrication.”

The next time you see a Zoloft, Prozac, or Paxil commercial, watch carefully. You will see that, when the drug company explains that depression is a serious medical illness caused by a chemical imbalance in the brain, it will be prefaced with the word “may” i.e., “depression may be caused by a biochemical imbalance in the brain.”

They must preface this statement with “may” because this theory has not been scientifically established. This unproven theory has been propagated by the pharmaceutical industry in order to sell psychotropic (mind-altering) drugs.

In May 2003, GlaxoSmithKline (“GSK”), the maker of Paxil, announced in Ireland (The Irish Times, Saturday May 10, 2003) that it was withdrawing claims contained in Paxil (called Seroxat in Ireland and the UK) brochures that the drug worked by normalizing the levels of serotonin. GSK was forced to acknowledge that the link between depression and serotonin levels is unproven and that its claims “were not consistent with the scientific literature.”

If your doctor tells you that these drugs will correct an imbalance in your brain chemicals, please realize that more than likely your doctor got this from drug company representatives as part of the drug companies’ marketing activities. There is no scientific evidence to support such a statement. Just because you are depressed does not mean that there is something wrong with your brain chemicals.