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Serotonin Theory of Depression – a review of the evidence

By UncategorizedNo Comments

Authors: Joanna MoncrieffRuth E. CooperTom StockmannSimone AmendolaMichael P. Hengartner & Mark A. Horowitz

Publication: Molecular Psychiatry (2022)Cite this article Date: 20 July 2022

This article is clear summary of the scientific facts regarding the serotonin theory of depression, and how this theory no longer holds up to current evidence.

It is science rich, lots of statistics, medical terms and microbiology. The message does not change however.

The summary of their findings: “The main areas of serotonin research provide no consistent evidence of there being an association between serotonin and depression, and no support for the hypothesis that depression is caused by lowered serotonin activity or concentrations. Some evidence was consistent with the possibility that long-term antidepressant use reduces serotonin concentration.”

This review also suggests that the “huge research effort based on the serotonin hypothesis has not produced convincing evidence of a biochemical basis to depression. This is consistent with research on many other biological markers. We suggest it is time to acknowledge that the serotonin theory of depression is not empirically substantiated.”

The idea that depression is the result of abnormalities in brain chemicals, particularly serotonin (5-hydroxytryptamine or 5-HT), has been influential for decades. What is more concerning is 80% or more of the general public now believe it is an established fact that depression is caused by a ‘chemical imbalance’.

Many general practitioners also subscribe to this view and popular websites commonly cite the theory . This means for Hypnotherapists treating depression, that we have:

  1. A responsibility to our clients to share this research and discuss it if need be
  2. A responsibility to share this research with our referring GP and doctors, who are really too busy to necessarily have been able to see and consider the latest research coming out of the studies.

Of course it also means we need to become very good at our craft of treating depression with hypnotherapy and strategic psychotherapy so we can create an every greater pool of clients who have had a successful outcome from depression without medication.

What do you think this might mean for us as hypnotherapists treating depression?

Depression is not caused by a chemical imbalance

By Depression, Research studiesNo Comments
 Professor Joanna Moncrieff and Dr Mark Horowitz (both UCL Psychiatry)

Writing in The Conversation, Professor Joanna Moncrieff and Dr Mark Horowitz (both UCL Psychiatry) report on their new research showing no clear evidence that serotonin levels or serotonin activity are responsible for depression.

This article is a clear and concise summary of the “old” thinking regarding serotonin, compared to the current research findings. A very good read.

“Although first proposed in the 1960s, the serotonin theory of depression started to be widely promoted by the pharmaceutical industry in the 1990s in association with its efforts to market a new range of antidepressants, known as selective serotonin-reuptake inhibitors or SSRIs. The idea was also endorsed by official institutions such as the American Psychiatric Association, which still tells the public that “differences in certain chemicals in the brain may contribute to symptoms of depression”.

“People accepted what they were told. And many started taking antidepressants because they believed they had something wrong with their brain that required an antidepressant to put right. In the period of this marketing push, antidepressant use climbed dramatically, and they are now prescribed to one in six of the adult population in England, for example.”

They refer to studies of depression allegedly due to chemical imbalances, transporter genes, gene variations ( study involved tens of thousands of subjects), placebos.

Their final paragraph says ” It is important that people know that the idea that depression results from a “chemical imbalance” is hypothetical. And we do not understand what temporarily elevating serotonin or other biochemical changes produced by antidepressants do to the brain. We conclude that it is impossible to say that taking SSRI antidepressants is worthwhile, or even completely safe. People need all this information to make informed decisions about whether or not to take antidepressants.”

This article originally appeared in The Conversation on 20 July 2022. To read the full article – click here

Depression and Older Adults

By DepressionNo Comments
Depression in our Older Adults presents differently to young adults

I recently read this article on the experience our older adults have with depression. It is a well written article detailing the differences older adults experience with depression.

The publishes, National Institute of Aging, shares “Depression in older adults may be difficult to recognize because older people may have different symptoms than younger people. For some older adults with depression, sadness is not their main symptom. They could instead be feeling more of a numbness or a lack of interest in activities. They may not be as willing to talk about their feelings. “

Research is showing intervention early on after the onset of some of these symptoms prevents serious deterioration later on, even suicidal thoughts. This could be as simple as regularly asking how they are, and truly listening to their answer.

A challenge with the article is their reference to using different treatment for depression in older adults always has a medical base ie anti depressants. Current research – ie 2022 publications, is clearly showing anti-depressants on their own are not effective in treating depression in younger adults vs older adults. The author has not included these findings in their article. Hypnotherapy is well evidenced in its efficacy in treating depression.

To read the full article – click here

Low Serotonin Levels and Depression: Debunking the Myth

By Depression, EmotionsNo Comments

Myth of Course. Been  Scientifically Debunked  in Aug 2022.

Author of this copy: Dr Michael Yapko

Researchers for the original article: Moncrieff J, Cooper RE, Stockmann T, Amendola S, Hengartner MP, and Horowitz, MA.

For more than three decades, the depression story has been all about “too low levels of the neurotransmitter serotonin.” The newer antidepressants in the SSRI category (such as Prozac, Paxil, Celexa, and Lexapro) were said to raise serotonin levels and thereby reduce the severity and duration of depressive symptoms.

From the time Prozac as the first SSRI was released, the pharmaceutical industry has continued to push the serotonin story as its advertising mantra. With virtually no evidence at all, the drug companies made it seem as if there was good science behind their antidepressants.

Through relentless advertising as well as cleverly misleading articles placed in leading medical journals, the serotonin mantra became widely accepted by professionals as well as the general public. The belief was widely held that these drugs were safe and effective.

Anticipating astonishingly huge profits in the billions, the drug industry’s advertising strategy in the U.S. shifted away from physicians only to a direct-to-consumer approach: “Ask your doctor if Prozac is right for you!” The “shortage of serotonin” was an almost irresistible rationale for getting medicated and the promise that “you’ll be made better than well” struck a nerve in anyone and everyone who hoped that would be true.

Antidepressants continue to be the number one form of treatment for depression in the US, Australia, Iceland, Portugal, and many other countries around the world. Surveys indicate that 85-90% of the public believe that depression is the consequence of too low a level of serotonin or a “chemical imbalance” in the brain. The advertising of the myth has been exceptionally successful.

Now a major new study, “The Serotonin Theory of Depression: A Systematic Umbrella Review of the Evidence” published just a few days ago (July 20th) in the journal Molecular Psychiatry has dealt a serious blow to the serotonin myth. Through a most comprehensive review of the evidence regarding serotonin receptors and the presumed serotonin transporter molecules, the research team led by University College London psychiatry professor Joanna Moncrieff (author of The Myth of the Chemical Cure ) firmly concluded “there is no evidence of a connection between reduced serotonin levels or activity and depression.”

As most students of Dr Michael Yapko may know, he has been highly critical of promoting  drug solutions for depression for many reasons. His primary and one major one: Depression is more a social than medical problem (see his  books Depression is Contagious and Keys to Unlocking Depression ). Ignoring the many social and psychological factors that contribute to depression relegates antidepressants to the category of a one-dimensional under-treatment of a multi-dimensional disorder.

Michael Yapko has spent his whole professional life researching, treating, and writing about depression, a most serious and debilitating disorder. If antidepressants were completely safe and highly effective, he says he would gladly say “take them!” But…they’re not. And now, finally, the advertising myth that has given rise to a non-critical widespread acceptance of questionable drugs has been challenged and possibly seriously damaged. Let’s see what the fallout will be.

Source: Moncrieff J, Cooper RE, Stockmann T, Amendola S, Hengartner MP, and Horowitz, MA. (7.20.2022). “The Serotonin Theory of Depression: A Systematic Umbrella Review of the Evidence.” Molecular Psychiatry. DOI 10.1038/s41380-022-01661-0.

Read the original article here

Can hypnotherapy really help to stop smoking?

By Smoking, UncategorizedNo Comments

Author: Timothy P Carmody 1Carol DuncanJoel A SimonSharon SolkowitzJoy HugginsSharon LeeKevin Delucchi

This randomized controlled trial study was conducted to compare the results of patients who wanted to stop smoking when their therapy was either a combination of counselling therapy and nicotine patches, OR counselling therapy, nicotine patches and hypnotherapy.

286 smokers were involved in this study in San Francisco. Both the controlled and the treatment group had two x 60 minute sessions and received three follow up calls together with 2 months of nicotine patches.

After 6 months, 29% of the group which had received hypnosis treatment were showing they had been able to abstain for 7 days, whilst only 23% of counselling clients were showing the same results,

26% of the clients who had hypnosis, were still no longer smoking 6 months later. 12 months later, within this group 24% of clients were still not smoking compared to 16% for the behavioral group.

The authors quoted conclusion is “It was concluded that hypnosis combined with NP compares favorably with standard behavioral counseling in generating long-term quit rates.”

How do you follow up your clients who seek to stop smoking? and what results are you getting? Do let us know below as we know we have a strong success rate in Australia among our practitioners.

Publication: Nicotine Tob

Medical Hypnotherapy heals bones faster

Can Medical Hypnosis heal Bone Fractures

By Research studiesNo Comments

Author: C S Ginandes 1D I Rosenthal

This is another clinical study looking at the results of using hypnosis within a clearly medical setting, with the intention of understanding if hypnosis does n fact make a different to physical healing and health improvements.

If we quote the authors, the intention of the study was to: “determine whether a hypnotic intervention accelerates bodily tissue healing using bone fracture healing as a site-specific test.”

The design of the study was a randomized controlled pilot study involving 12 healthy adult patients who presented to the orthopedic emergency department with bone fractures. They were divided into 2 groups and each received the normal physical care for their injury. The treatment group in addition to this had hypnotic interventions in the form of individual sessions and follow up audiotapes. The hypnotherapy was designed to specifically promote and support fracture healing.

From week 6 onward, those patients who had received hypnotic interventions, were showing a clear difference at their fracture edge and this trend continued through to week 9 after their injury. These patients had better healing, more ankle mobility, greater functional ability to move on uneven and ascending or descending surfaces. They also were using less analgesics.

Publication : The alternative Therapy Health Journal

Medical Hynosis improved wound healing rate

Does Medical Hypnosis improve post-surgical wound healing?

By Research studiesNo Comments

Authors: Carol Ginandes 1Patricia BrooksWilliam SandoChristopher JonesJohn Aker

Medical hypnosis has been researched for decades, although most of the studies have focused on various functional applications. For example: reducing anxiety pre medical procedure, pain reduction, introduction to anesthesia etc. However, these authors show there have been very few studies done on the role hypnosis may play on physical healing of patients. Hence the term, medical hypnosis.

The authors report on a small randomized clinical trial involving 18 healthy women who underwent a surgical intervention using the same surgical protocols and post operative care. The patients were divided into 2 random groups: one receiving normal care and the other group receiving normal care plus hypnosis targetting faster wound healing.

Both groups received the same post operative assessments by medical staff who were unaware of the study taking place, the patients wounds were documented and assessed as per normal.

those patients who had experienced the hypnotic interventions, showed their wound healing was signtiicantly greater than their other groups over the normal 7 week post operative period.

To quote the authors, “Results of this preliminary trial indicate that use of a targeted hypnotic intervention can accelerate postoperative wound healing and suggest that further tests of using hypnosis to augment physical healing are warranted.”

Publication: American Journal Clinical hypnosis

Authors Carol Ginandes 1Patricia BrooksWilliam SandoChristopher JonesJohn Aker

WhISPA’s July 2022

By Wh-ISPA's Member NewsletterNo Comments
July 2022

A message from our President

Dear ISPA Community,

As I sit here writing this introduction to our newsletter I am reminded just how much has happened in the first half of 2022. Yes, the word ‘unprecedented’ remains overused, yet is still relevant. 

For some it has been a good year so far. For others some moments have made it a good year. But we are also aware that for some this year may be the year they would rather not experience again.

To all our NSW and Queensland members, stay safe, stay dry and reach out if you need support.

I was speaking to an ISPA member recently, who lost all of her worldly possessions including her home, car and every belonging in the recent floods that hit Northern New South Wales.

I found myself unable to truly imagine what that experience would have been like. I was left in complete awe of her resilience and determination to start her material life once again from scratch.

So whatever your year has been so far, may you be inspired to create the best possible second half of the year with what you have.

The first half of 2022 has seen ISPA continue to grow, develop and be challenging, sometimes simultaneously. We have welcomed many new members to ISPA, if this is your first newsletter WELCOME to the home of where you will find your people.

We have once again found ourselves being constantly in awe of the stories and work that you are all doing out in your community. If ever there is a moment in time where the world needs people to be at their best, it is now! I am immensely proud of our profession and the difference that you our members are making everyday. If you are not practicing yet, or still studying, please keep moving forward because the world needs you to keep doing this great work!  

The ISPA team have been working behind the scenes to bring some great opportunities to fruition, for you our strategic practitioner community. I would like within this newsletter like to take some time to mention some of the great advancements that add value to your experience with us and within your professional life and development.  I must say being part of ISPA and watching the commitment, dedication and investment from our ISPA team (all voluntary) has been a true point of pride for me and I would like to recognise the efforts of all the incredibly talented people that have contributed to bringing us to where we are today, ready for an even better tomorrow.

Please know we love hearing from you our ISPA community, so please reach out with your feedback, questions or any value added information you would like shared.

You can contact the ISPA team at

With Great Appreciation,

Linton Davey

ISPA President

ISPA are thrilled to announce the first of our Health Fund partners with CBHS Health. 

We will be communicating to our Accredited and Accredited Clinical Members in the coming weeks on the process to apply for your provider number from CBHS Health. This means that health fund members of CBHS Health receive a rebate on the services that you provide. Whilst the rebate amounts remain varied by each health fund, the fact is that it increases credibility and legitimacy to our work.

CBHS Health is our first fund and we hope to bring more news on additional funds in time. 

Just in case you may of missed our earlier notifications– Breakfast and Brains is this Friday 15th July 2022 from 10.00 – 11.00am. Register your seat now as there are only a few left

ISPA Member Hub -where members go for information, inspiration and community

The launch of the MEMBER HUB has been a huge undertaking and one that we are very proud of. The MEMBER HUB ultimately provides you the opportunity to customise the way you interact, find your ISPA resources, industry requirements as well as connecting with your people/community.  We will continue to bring new resources, tools, education and communications all through your personal member portal, so please if you have not got acquainted with the MEMBER HUB now is the perfect time to do so! 

ISPA Member Directory


– Make sure to get onto your Member Hub and confirm your membership levels. This customises and ensures that all of the resources you need will be there for you. This also applies to all of our Student members, so get online and update your profile.

– Remember that as you receive CPD for learning activity outside of ISPA that you can upload to your profile so when it is needed you have everything in one place and ready to go. (ISPA require you to have completed a minimum of 20 CPD points per membership year)

– Ensure that if you are a practicing Member that you have completed your business profile for the ISPA Practitioner Directory. This is also available to the public on the website so don’t miss the chance to be seen!  .


What is a Workspace? A Workspace quite simply is an area of the MEMBER HUB that is all about you and your fellow practitioners. Established within your registration you will have selected to being a member of one or more ISPA Colleges, be it College of Strategic Psychotherapists, College of Strategic Therapists etc.  So you will find the Workspace for your specific ISPA College within each area, this is where you can communicate, find resources and engage with like minded people, doing likeminded work. 

These Workspaces are becoming the home of materials, digital badges and will be building in the coming months as your real hub of activity. If you do not have your digital badges for your ISPA College make sure to get onto the MEMBER HUB and into your Workspace.

Watch this space and do start to have your own discussions.

The ISPA Accredited Practitioner badge is waiting in your Workspace

ISPA Accredited Member digital badge for your own marketing digital platform

Hypnotherapy Council of Australia

HCA – Peak body for qualified Hypnotherapists in Australia

What is happening at the HCA?

The Australian Peak Body  for Hypnotherapists, HCA,  have just recently updated their logo – see the one on the above, AND they have updated their website.

Do go and look at their website – and more than that, make sure your listing as a qualified Hypnotherapist on the National Register for Hypnotherapists is up to date.

If you need to update your listing, please update it using the online form on this page,  and submit it.

Once you have paid for your listing, you are entitled to display the HCA digital badge on your website – a quick reminder you can then create a link from your badge back to your own listing in the National Register. This tip is good for your SEO ranking and helps you get more clients.

Please note it takes about 3 weeks for the final listing to be shown.


With a strong educational focus at ISPA we have hosted some great events in the first half of 2022 designed on what it takes to not only be a great practitioner, but also a great business owner.

Don’t miss our free to members Breakfast and Brains series as we continue to engage in great conversations with a platform designed to look at hot issues and the sharing of great ideas. Be sure to check it out on the MEMBER HUB (events) and reserve your seat for the July 15th session. (No charge for ISPA members).

We hosted the wonderful two part Branding Masterclass with entrepreneur and branding specialist Billie McNeil. This was a great business centric look at branding and what it takes to stand out in today’s market.

And last week saw us connected to the amazing event hosted by IAP with Dr Michael Yapko. This workshop was truly world class insights into  Re-thinking Depression.

Make sure to keep an eye out as we will continue our education series with an upcoming focus on our successful business series.


We are here at ISPA purely because of you our members and we want to hear from you. As such we will be sending a survey in the coming weeks to all members to gain your insights and hear about your needs, wants and  desires. I understand how busy we all are but please take a moment to let us know your point of view. We have always said at ISPA we need to deliver what you our members want and need, so please take this as a great opportunity to shape how we as an association move forward.

Launching our State Chapters

We are working in the background to Launch our State Chapters – in New South Wales, Victoria and Queensland where face to face events will become available. To all our members in other areas of Australia, Pakistan, New Zealand, England – we are going to remain a virutal group for the moment, but you are still firmly in our minds.

Do watch out for further news. And of course – if you would like to help with the set up and running of these face to face chapters, please let Deborah Biderman know at She is looking forward to connecting with you and supporting the development of our Chapters

Ensure you get your ISPA Emails

Have you seen this message on your ISPA emails? We know email providers have been tightening up their SPAM security protocols over the past months which puts email they think may dangerous or questionable either into your SPAM folder without you knowing about it.

Or they give you a message like this one above. ISPA only sends emails to its members and to those who have given us permission to do so. We protect your identity diligently and so feel comfortable when you get a message like this – click on the button “Looks Safe”. What will also help you is if you put the ISPA email addresses into your contacts lists, AND if you send a Hello How are you email to our Membership Secretary at . I
In this way your email provider recognizes you are in communication with us and want to receive the emails

Have you joined ISPA Social Communities?

We now have our own Facebook Page and our own Linkedin Page.

Do click on the links above, join these communities where you can meet others, post, share and like to your hearts content – and the benefit of all members who are also in the group with you.

Until next time
Stay safe, stay dry

ISPA Membership Team

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