There are a number of theories about the causes of depression; social, psychological and physical factors all play their part. Very often, doctors tell people with depression that they are suffering from a ‘chemical imbalance’; but this is a fairly meaningless phrase, as there is no real evidence for it. The only evidence is that medication which is designed to change the chemistry in particular ways does often lift the depression, but the interplay of chemicals in the brain is extremely sophisticated and complicated, and still very inadequately understood. Talking of a ‘chemical imbalance’ not only implies a better understanding than we have but also ignores what may have caused the supposed imbalance in the first place.
Many people know exactly why they are depressed and can talk about the life events that preceded it. But they may need some medication to help them to cope while they recover and adjust. Medication alone rarely provides a complete solution. Please view our course on ‘Understanding Depression‘ to find out more.