I tried to ask permission of blogger extraordinaire ALT_mentalities to reprint her letter on my site, but for some reason it seems I can no longer comment on her site unless I join Wordpress. I am having the same problem with other Wordpress blogs. So, figuring it's easier to ask ALT's forgiveness than to seek her permission as the saying goes, I have swiped her broadside and pasted it into my post.
TO: Cristina Traina and Laurie Zoloth
CC: Editors, Northwestern Daily and Huffington Post College
SUBJECT: Response to your article: “Culture stigmatizing mental illness must change”
In your recent Huffington Post article (Culture stigmatizing mental illness must change), you wrote that “depression is really a chemical imbalance in the brain.” I understand this was not an academic publication – but could you provide a citation to back this up?
You’ll find it impossible to do so; because this mantra, this advertising slogan is about as scientific as the statement that “the best part of waking up is Folgers in your cup!” The best? Really?
Meanwhile, let me provide with you with a few citations of my own
[Antidepressant] advertising campaigns have revolved around the claim that SSRIs correct a chemical imbalance caused by a lack of serotonin… Contemporary neuroscience research has failed to confirm any serotonergic lesion in any mental disorder, and has in fact provided significant counterevidence to the explanation of a simple neurotransmitter deficiency… In fact, there is no scientifically established ideal “chemical balance” of serotonin, let alone an identifiable pathological imbalance.
from Lacasse, J.R. & J. Leo (2005) Serotonin and Depression: A disconnect between the Advertisements and the Scientific Literature.
A serotonin deficiency for depression has not been found.
- Psychiatrist Joseph Glenmullen, clinical instructor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, in Prozac Backlash (2000)
Although it is often stated with great confidence that depressed people have a serotonin or norepinephrine deficiency, the evidence actually contradicts these claims.
- Professor Emeritus of Neuroscience Elliot Valenstein, in Blaming the Brain (1998), which reviews the evidence for the serotonin hypothesis.
But I am not writing merely to correct a factual error in your post – there’s more.