Rethinking Depression

Depression is NOT simply a disease of insufficient neurotransmitters and the current medical model for treating it is horribly inadequate at best, and downright dangerous at worst. You can get better through nutritional and lifestyle interventions as opposed to getting a life sentence of taking prescription medication to mask symptoms (which, for the record, the scientific literature shows hardly works). Read this beautifully articulated excerpt by Kelly Brogan, MD, a respected psychiatrist and the author of the fantastic book A Mind of Your Own.

We have been told a story about depression: that it’s likely genetically driven and if it develops, it’s because of brain chemical imbalances that require management by chemical medications, often for the rest of our lives. This is a false tale that has been sold to us by an industry that has influenced the training of doctors and has spent billions on messaging patients through direct-to-consumer advertising. I invested my entire career in this narrative as a conventionally trained psychiatrist until I learned the truth.

In six decades, there has been no evidence of a discrete chemical imbalance that causes depression. This isn’t all that surprising, however, when you zoom out a bit to realize that depression is not one thing. It is an indication of imbalance. It’s as if your toe hurts—it can hurt because you have an infection in the toenail, you have a string tied around it too tight, or you dropped a hammer on it. The hurting is just an invitation to investigate further to identify the best way to resolve the problem.

It is time, even according to leaders in the field, to let go of the chemical imbalance theory and take a fresh look at what the science says. Depression is rooted in inflammation, not the brain.”
— Kelly Brogan, MD

If you or anyone you know is suffering from depression, work with a healthcare practitioner trained in functional medicine to get better because we truly can help. I urge you to try dietary and lifestyle modifications before trying prescription medications. Dietary and lifestyle changes are more effective because they work to correct the underlying imbalances leading to depressive symptoms. If you're already on medication, don't worry! You can still work to re-balance the body to improve both your physical and mental health.