We must stop thinking that depression is merely physical in origin and cure. It’s not. It never was. We are bodies and souls, and we must care for both bodies and souls comprehensively and well.
Will you forgive me a short foray into my particular field of study? You see, my undergraduate degree is in psychology, and I currently teach biblical counseling. So you would be sympathetic if I were to say that counseling, the care of the individual, and an understanding of the human person is immensely interesting to me. I trust you would also see the practical and personal application that the field has to all of us, right? Therefore, if we were to discuss the cause of depression for a moment, then, you’d appreciate the importance and relevance, wouldn’t you? I ask all of these rhetorical questions because I’m about to launch into a discussion about a major paper that was published in the field of psychology/psychiatry just last week (July 20, 2022) and I don’t want your eyes to glaze over—at least not right away—so stay with me!
In a landmark systematic review released last week in the journal of Molecular Psychiatry, researchers concluded that the “chemical imbalance” view of depression has no evidence to support the alleged cause of depression. Here is where you might be asking “so what?”, and perhaps your eyes are already hazy. Well, if you have been attentive to psychological medication advertisements and commercials, at least since the 90s, you’ve likely heard of “the chemical imbalance” theory of depression. Or, if you know someone who is taking psychological medications, you’ve likely heard them reference “a chemical imbalance in their brain” a time or two if you’ve discussed the topic with them. Or if you yourself have sat down with your doctor about psychological medication, you likely heard him explain about the chemicals in your brain and why you feel the way that you do. That is because this notion of depression originating in the brain has been dominant in the western world for the past 30+ years (and has at least been around for the past 60). In fact, 80% of surveyed adults believe depression is caused by a chemical imbalance.¹ But last week’s conclusive study marks the end of such a theory (or at least should mark the end). The paper decisively concludes by saying that it is time to acknowledge that this particular theory of depression has no empirical evidence to support it!²