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

All about Doubt

By EmotionsNo Comments

An article about one of man’s psychological enemies!

The Common Enemy

Author Terence Watts, published by The Association for Professional Hypnosis and Psychotherapy

This article will probably benefit the newer therapist more than the ‘seasoned professional’.

This article was so relevant and well written, we asked to have it copied here on our site – with the links to the original site intact.

As Terence says ” Every so often, something pops into my head that I realise I’ve known and worked with for my entire therapy career but never actually put into words. Just such an event occurred yesterday, a train of thoughts about something that is common to therapist and client, a common enemy that can cause therapy to falter or even fail completely. We’ve all experienced it and will continue to do so from time to time so I hope this article can help you to slip by it when it strikes, by recognising it for what it is.

The enemy is DOUBT.

If doubt overrides belief – in either client or practitioner – then the success of therapy is at risk. It’s not just in therapy, in fact, but in everything we do and that includes running the business of therapy. But what is doubt actually for? What purpose does it serve if it so easily creates failure?

The answer is that it’s an essential tool for survival, inherited from our ancestors. If we’re not sure of an outcome and in the absence of imminent threat, doubt seeks to avoid change. But that’s not the problem – it’s how it does it that is so important. It’s the work of the Reptilian Complex and where it perceives there is risk, i.e. an uncertain outcome, it will trigger an urge to avoid the situation altogether, quite often creating an inescapable feeling that what we are doing is just not going to work. It actually encourages us to abandon the process. The client perceives that they are wasting their money; the therapist perceives that their integrity is at risk. The client might believe they were foolish to even think about ‘getting better’; the therapist fears they are about to be ‘found out’ for being the ineffective therapist they already fear they are. Because they are thinking of failure, both therapist and client begin to see evidence of it – after all, doubt is stopping progress, so all that can be found is lack of progress… failure, in other words.

So often, when the inevitable happens, the following outcomes ensue:

·      Therapist and client both reflect that they ‘knew all along’ it wasn’t going to work

·      The therapist loses confidence and wonders if they should quit

·      The client decides that therapy just doesn’t work for them

·      Gains and agendas for both therapist and client remain intact


It doesn’t have to be that way. When there is little or no doubt, the Reptilian Complex instead focuses on whatever is being sought. The client looks forward to feeling well and searches to see if they’re getting what they want. The therapist searches to see how best to guide the client through whatever process is being employed.

To create this situation isn’t as difficult as it might seem – and so we’ll have a look at the absolute importance of the therapist’s role in the encounter. You need a positive viewpoint, by which I mean that if it looks as if therapy might not be successful, you become interested and curious, rather than concerned. If you can recognise that ‘failure’ is a chance to discover something you didn’t already know, you will fear it less – maybe not at all. It will therefore seem less important to the Reptilian Complex and it will be likely to trigger curiosity rather than avoidance. Your confidence stays high and you will remain convinced that there is an answer even if you can’t find it as yet. This, in turn, will allow the generation of two psychological processes that are absolutely vital for the therapist: Optimism and Enthusiasm. It is a fact that optimistic and enthusiastic individuals are generally more likely to be successful in their endeavours (not just in therapy), since they will be constantly looking for evidence of what they are searching for and never ‘miss a trick’. They are focused on the idea of success, instead of on what they might be doing wrong.

You can use those twin processes to easily dispel client doubt and keep them focused on success – inspire the client that the reward of therapy is greater than the price. Help them find a goal that makes the ‘risk’ (the cost, time, any discomfort) seem like the best of all possible deals! Ask them what they will do when they are better. Discuss it and optimistically enthuse about it, because we are pack animals and respond to the enthusiasm of others. Help the client paint a picture that really grabs their imagination and makes them want that a lot more than staying as they are. Subtly remind them of it on every visit. Make sure their Reptilian Complex is pointed towards a powerful outcome, in other words.

Some of you might have noticed that it’s the clients who are the most ill who respond best to therapy… well, this should not be a surprise. When life is really ‘bad’, almost any change will be considered to see if it makes an improvement… so the client starts investigating how much better it will be than what they already have. They start looking for what they want.

Get that process working to dispel doubt with every client and your success rates will soar!

And never doubt it!”

© Terence Watts, 2018

Posted: Saturday 6th July 2019

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