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Why You Shouldn’t Believe Anyone Who Tells You That You Have a ‘Chemical Imbalance’

This is one of those ‘the earth is really round!’ articles, that probably won’t win me a lot of friends… but here goes, anyway.

Despite the fact that they’ve been researching this subject for more than three decades already, no chemical imbalance has ever been scientifically-proven to be the cause of mental illness.

I know that’s a big statement to make in some circles, so here’s a couple of quotes to back it up:

Jonathan Leo, associate professor of anatomy at Western University of Health Sciences says:

“If a psychiatrist says you have a shortage of a chemical, ask for a blood test and watch the psychiatrist’s reaction. The number of people who believe that scientists have proven that depressed people have low serotonin is a glorious testament to the power of marketing.”

According to Joseph Glenmullen of Harvard Medical School:

“Nothing like a sodium imbalance or blood sugar imbalance exists for depression or any other psychiatric syndrome.”

And lastly, this, from Edward Drummond, M.D., Associate Medical Director at Seacoast Mental Health Center in Portsmouth, New Hampshire:

“First, no biological etiology [cause] has been proven for any psychiatric disorder… in spite of decades of research… So don’t accept the myth that we can make an ‘accurate diagnosis’… Neither should you believe that your problems are due solely to a ‘chemical imbalance.'”

There are many other scientists out there saying exactly the same thing – and the American Psychiatric Association (APA) has never been able to produce any evidence that the infamous ‘chemical imbalance’ exists.

So if someone is telling you that you have a chemical imbalance – particularly if that someone is a mental health professional – you should run away as fast as your legs will carry you.


It all comes down to human psychology. If people are told that their brains are genetically ‘broken’ in some way, and that there is nothing they can do to fix the problem or help themselves other than put themselves permanently on medication, that pretty much takes away all their motivation to get to the true roots of their issues, or their belief in themselves that they CAN heal and they CAN feel great again.

If the med actually worked to improve people’s quality of life long-term, maybe that wouldn’t matter so much. But more and more research is showing that when it comes to psychiatric medications, any short-term relief they provide is more than cancelled out by the long-term problems they cause to the user’s physical AND mental health.

To quote the famous song: ‘The drugs don’t work, they just make things worse.’

And mental health professionals, more than anyone else, should be aware of the huge problems associated with long-term use of psychiatric medications and they should also know that the chemical imbalance theory of mental health problems has never been proven, and is full of holes.

If they don’t know this information – or worse, they’re trying to argue you into believing stuff that’s patently untrue about Prozac being like insulin – walk away.

Bottom line: You don’t need shrinks or pills (and all their horrible side effects) to feel great and boost your mood. But you do need to figure out what’s really causing the problems, and how to tackle them, across all three levels of body, mind and soul.

Julia Clarks

Julia Clarks

Julia is a health and wellness reporter who is passionate about aiding people much better to recognize their bodies. She's a fan of excellent scientific research and also bad wordplay here, and resides in Boston with her spouse, 2 daughters, and also loves dogs.
Julia Clarks

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