​​​​Is Depression Really Caused By A Chemical Imbalance?

Pharmaceutical companies have promoted the harmful myth that depression is caused by a chemical imbalance, which can be corrected with their drugs.

As Dr. Irving Kirsch says, “Not only is the chemical-imbalance hypothesis unproven, but…it is about as close as a theory gets in science to being disproven by the evidence.” (The Emperor’s New Drugs, p. 81)

Unfortunately, even though there is no proof that depression is a chemical imbalance, if you believe the lie that drug manufacturers are trying to sell you, it makes it much harder for you to stop being depressed, and you will be more psychologically dependent on their pills.

So here’s why it makes sense (and is also in your best interest) to reject the chemical imbalance theory today.

Understanding the chemical imbalance explanation for depression

The chemical imbalance theory is the idea that there is an ideal balance of chemicals in your brain, and when these chemicals are not in balance, you become depressed.

For example, there is an ideal balance of dopamine and serotonin (chemicals associated with happiness), and not having the proper balance of these chemicals in your brain makes you depressed.

The solution, according to drug companies, is simple: use their drugs to “correct” this chemical imbalance.

There’s only one catch: drug manufacturers don’t tell you what the proper chemical balance is, or whether you’ve achieved the “proper” balance after taking their drugs.

This is because no such “proper” chemical balance exists.

Also, drug companies will only ever speculate that you have a chemical imbalance, and never prove it. This is because there is no such thing as a chemical imbalance depression test.

What it’s like to treat a chemical imbalance

Imagine someone gives you a dart in a pitch black room. He tells you there is a dartboard in the room, and to throw the dart and try to hit it.

This is what it’s like when you’re given an antidepressant to treat a chemical imbalance. You go on a leap of faith that you have a chemical imbalance, and that there’s a proper chemical balance that you want to blindly hit with the antidepressant.

Returning to our analogy, let’s say that you throw your dart and you hear a thud. The person tells you that you must have hit the dart board.

Similarly, you take your antidepressant and feel better. The drug company tells you that you must have hit the proper chemical balance with their drug.

Finally, you turn on the lights in the pitch black room. You see that when you threw your dart, the thud was from you hitting a wall. There was no dart board in the room for you to hit.

Similarly, when you press the drug companies for information, they reveal that there is no proper chemical balance for you to hit. When you took their drug and felt happier, it was likely due to the placebo effect, which is well documented in all of their drug trials.

Depression is not a chemical imbalance

Remember, what ulimately causes depression is your thinking. It’s definitely not a chemical imbalance.

To appreciate this, let’s imagine that the pharameceutical companies finally tell everyone what the “proper” chemical balance is, and that they develop a pill that gives you this proper balance. They even develop tests to prove it. (No such test currently exists.)

Guess what? Even if you have the “proper” chemical balance in your brain, if you still think that your life is awful, meaningful, and pointless, you will remain depressed no matter what the chemical levels are in your brain.

Drug companies have already proven this for us. They have flooded people’s brains with higher levels of dopamine and serotonin, and plenty of people have remained depressed with this change in brain chemistry.

This is because your thinking — not your chemical levels — ultimately determine whether you are depressed or not.

Of course, drug companies already appreciate this better than anyone else, since the placebo effect in every one of their trials proves that a change in thought is the most important factor for getting rid of depression, not a change in chemical levels.

The effects of believing you have a chemical imbalance

There is no evidence that depression is caused by chemical imbalance. But just like believing in an imaginary monster can give you nighmares, believing in a non-existent chemical imbalance can make you struggle more with depression.

Unfortunately, if you believe that you have a chemical imbalance that causes your depression, you will feel cursed and helpless to do anything about your situation.

You won’t be motivated to do things that help eliminate depression, since you think there’s no point to it. So you’ll remain depressed. And feeling powerless will create greater stress and anxiety for you, as well as decrease your self esteem and self confidence.

All of this contributes to greater depression, and makes it harder for you to stop being depressed.

Also, you’ll be more likely to become hooked on expensive antidepressants with nasty side effects, since you think they’re your “only hope”.

This, of course, is exactly what pharmaceutical companies want, which is why they promote the chemical imbalance theory.

Stop treating a chemical imbalance

Today, stop trying to “correct” a chemical imbalance, which is a complete waste of time, especially since there is no proper chemical balance for you to hit.

Instead, do things that are proven to help eliminate depression, like changing your thinking, and getting more exercise, sleep, and sunlight.

Finally, be aware that if you are on antidepressants, getting off of them can create withdrawal symptoms. So if you do this, be sure to do this intelligently, with someone else’s help and guidance.

Next: Why Can’t I Stop Being Depressed? →

You are here:

Section 2 Lessons:

  1. What causes depression?
  2. The placebo effect & depression: proof your thoughts matter
  3. Is depression really caused by a chemical imbalance?
  4. Why can’t I stop being depressed?
  5. Can depression be cured without medication?
  6. What is the best way to beat depression?

Next Section In The Depression-Free Course:

Section 3

About the author

Hi, I'm Dave Fonvielle, the founder of Always Greater. On this website I teach you step by step how to be happier and more successful achieving your goals, whether it's completing a small personal to do task, like doing the dishes, or a large business goal, like launching a new product. Get my free 3 Tiny Habits for Being Happier & More Successful training for all of this right here.