“the result of chemical imbalances in the brain”

Recently there has been wide ranging discussion on the so-called ‘chemical imbalance’ theory and its place in history when it comes to understanding the prescribing of antidepressants.

As an NHS psychiatrist of over 25 years I have of shared my experience and my research on this subject in a number of posts. In Scotland, nearly 1 in 5 of the population are taking antidepressants and more often than not, on an indefinite basis.

As of the time of writing, nhs.uk offers this explanation of the cause of bipolar disorder “Bipolar disorder is widely believed to be the result of chemical imbalances in the brain. The chemicals responsible for controlling the brain’s functions are called neurotransmitters, and include noradrenaline, serotonin and dopamine.”

However, a number of eminent psychiatrists and academics continue to argue that the ‘chemical imbalance’ theory “was never actually held by psychiatry” and one senior psychiatrist is of the view that the ‘Chemical imbalance’ theory is little more than “anti-psychiatry propaganda”. Interestingly this view is offered by the author of a blog entitled “Real Psychiatry”.

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