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Lets Talk Through the New Research on Depression…

This blog post features words on a recent study regarding Antidepressants/SSRI’s. These words are my own views on the topic and thoughts and feelings surrounding. The post also features links to articles and the study itself.

Hello my loves,

How are we?

Yes yes, I know. Where the dickens have I been you may be wondering?!

I truly thought I was seeing a clearing in my work which would allow me to come back to my blog more regularly. See, since Covid-19 I have been a busy bee working with various organisations to support young ones struggling with the likes of Covid-19 itself and all the things that come with it. So many have been struggling with their mental health not only due to Covid itself, but mourning those last few hectic years too.

The majority of that work was outside of New Zealand and mainly in England and the USA due to little to no cases here. When those cases started to taper off a little, I thought there was a clearing which would allow me to post more regularly on my blog. Then we opened the borders here and now covid is rampant in New Zealand with around 8,000 cases a day. (May not sound much, but that’s a lot to us in little ol’ New Zealand!)

With that, work has got busy for me again here which I (yes, maybe stupidly) wasn’t quite ready for. However, I wanted to make sure I shared a blog post this week on a topic that has flooded my inbox of late. I mean FLOODED.

Rather than just post bits and bats through social media, I thought it would be better to just sit down and chat through things properly as this is such a complex, but most importantly, IMPORTANT topic.


Yes, depression or most importantly the reasonings being it. Our beloved chemical imbalance theory that was holding on by a thread, has recently been cut as it has been confirmed by a review of the study that there is little to no evidence to support its claims.

I actually heard about this as I woke up to messages from friends in various health fields from GP’s to therapists sending me not only the studies, but some fantastic articles surrounding the topics. Their work had never been based on the topic, but had often noted how fed up they had been in the past having to debunk the theory when people came in to their offices often claiming they must have this imbalance and being unwilling to explore other alternatives.

Let’s start off by talking through this theory; The ‘chemical imbalance theory’ was first proposed in 1960’s and suggested that depression was the result of changing levels of neurotransmitters in the brain.

Studies had shown changes in the brain of those with illnesses such as anxiety and depression. However, it had never been proven if these changes caused the depression or anxiety or result from them. Sort of a situation of what came first, the chicken or the egg.

Despite such little evidence this theory has been thrust in to society and has become almost the known and ‘go to’ reason for such illnesses. This theory has then been pushed again by those wanting to ‘advocate’ for mental illness, especially online as you will see mental health advocacy pages littered with the theory.

I guess you could say fair enough when we’ve never really had any other definitive ‘reasonings’ for such a thing. I mean, take that theory away all together and things become much more daunting and you begin to realise just how many things can contribute to anxiety and depression.

and for me THAT is the whole point!

Yes, so many things can contribute to the likes of anxiety and depression which to me is why we should have never been set on one thing (even if it did have enough evidence!).

Those who sent me the news were thrilled as despite this now being talked about, this is something that was debunked some time ago and something that a lot of good doctors, psychiatrists etc wont touch upon.

I must say this. I am not against antidepressants/SSRI’s at all and I truly mean that. In fact over the years I would have lost a lot more people if they hadn’t have had them. However, their use and how frivolously they have been given out has concerned me from a young age.

Now, you all know I believe my trauma happened due to my abusers lack of healing. Yes, a huge part of that was not having a want to heal, but it also came from lots of factors that stopped my abuser healing and in fact, told my abuser she didn’t have to!

Yes, despite layer upon layer of trauma surrounding my abuser and the generations before, she was labeled with a chemical imbalance.

You can imagine how I feel about that one..

This in turn prevented her from healing as she thought the way she felt, acted and behaved was due to her brain essentially being broken. Nothing to do with experiencing years of trauma and then trying to smother it with some blumin’ awful coping methods.

When I was around the age of 12 (please note, much too young to be given antidepressants) I too was told I had a chemical imbalance. Oh, believe me I was depressed (thanks for asking) but this came from me living in a world of verbal and physical violence, sexual abuse and also believing at the time that my dad had passed away. She was absolutely spot on that there was some sort of depression in there (to say the least) However, I was told I had a chemical imbalance and despite my age, needed to be medicated for it.

Despite the young age, I was very aware of why I was so unwell. I mean, it was very obvious when I was living in fear on the daily and I wouldn’t expect this person to know fully what was going on (well, maybe a bit) but nothing was investigated.

I wasn’t at school, which seems huge to me, as that depression should have been seen as a lack of connection. This doctor was my abusers doctor, which would suggest I was unhappy due to her mental health or lack of it, but no. A doctor came into my home, looked at me for 5 minutes, didn’t speak to me (because at this point I was mute) and then labeled me as chemically imbalanced.

you can probably see why I’m passionate about this!

I have also known of many friends and loved ones who too have been labeled as being chemically imbalanced and that being the reasonings behind their depression. Recently a friend (which who ive spoken about before) was diagnosed with depression and this chemical imbalance theory. It’s only because she’s so stubborn (dont worry, she wont mind me saying!) that she didn’t want to take this for an answer and couldn’t work out how her brain had been fine for 40+ years and then suddenly had become imbalanced. She kindly thanked her GP for her suggestions, went and did her own research, found a new GP, had some tests done and some time later actually found she had a severe deficiency of vitamin D.

There are such a wide range of reasons out there that can attribute to depression and anxiety and I feel the rise in rates since covid-19 should be a major indication that a huge cause is in the way we live and the times we live in.

Some more scientifically proven factors that can cause depression:
(As featured in Johann Hari’s book lost connections)

1.Disconnection from meaningful work.
2.Disconnection from others.
3.Disconnection from meaningful values.
4.Childhood trauma.
5.Disconnect from status.
6.Disonnet from nature.
7.Disconnect from a secure and hopeful future.
9.Changes in the brain.

When I was talking through this with a dear friend who is a GP in the UK, she mad a really important point on this topic that really stuck with me. She said that this being in the media and sharing with people not only the possibilities of recovery, but that there are other counterparts to depression helps her, help people. If people are aware of the multitude of reasons it may open up a conversation with doctors that allows patients to say “Hey, my job has been stressful recently could this be a factor?” or “I recently lost a loved one and now find myself stuck feeling like this. Is there anyway I could break that pattern?” Thats when other alternatives can be offered from support at work to CBT or other pattern breaking therapies!

It opens up such a huge window of discussion and collaborative healing which we have been missing from the space for so long now. There has been lots of articles circulating in how the imbalance theory has excluded people and made people view mental health worse and I have to agree.So many of the other named causes for depression are things we can all at some point have gone through or can relate to. It creates this community of humans having real human experience and banding together to relate and create better as opposed to someone who’s brain is faulty and they cant do anything about it.

For me, and its something I talk about a lot, I cant put into words how much I dislike this idea of a ‘broken brain’ especially when it comes to things like this. Having real human emotions (that yes, may have gone haywire!) doesn’t make us broken and it certainly doesnt in the world we live in today.

What a mess we’re in!

The argument isn’t if antidepressants/SSRI’s work, because they absolutely do and again there are a lot of friends I would have lost over the years if it wasn’t for them. However, to me they should be only given at that point when things are desperate and shouldn’t be given as a first option, and shouldn’t be seen as a long term solution. If there is room to explore some other paths first, I absolutely believe that should be prioritised.

Ive actually found myself putting my big girl boots on recently and telling some people off within the recovery space. I don’t feel this is a time for gloating or ‘I told you so’ but a time to encourage recovery and healing even more and to ship out this idea of permeance and broken brains. There is actual solid evidence out there for other causes of depression and even more evidence attached to neuroplasticity and the powers of our beautiful (not broken) brains.

This also isn’t the time to jump off antidepressants (never do that!) but just allow yourself to explore if there could be other counterparts or triggers for your depression. If you’re a reader of my blog that would suggest you might have gone through some sort of trauma in your past and trauma can play a huge role in the root cause of depression.

Important note: If you are taking antidepressants its very important you don’t stop taking them, without speaking to your doctor first. Antidepressants can be a useful and beneficial tool when used in conjunction with other means.

Prof. Phil Cowen, a professor of psychopharmacology at the University of Oxford, said, “No mental health professional would currently endorse the view that a complex heterogenous condition like depression stems from a deficiency in a single neurotransmitter.”– Articles on the Chemical Imbalance theory.


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