WhatsNew2Day
Latest News And Breaking Headlines

Joanne Moncrieff of University College London ‘disproves link between low serotonin and depression

Antidepressants do work, urge top doctors to hit back at bombshell study

Top psychiatrists rounded up the authors of an explosive study that cast doubt on the effectiveness of antidepressants, calling the findings “absurd” and “grossly exaggerated.”

Last week, researchers at University College London said they had disproved a 1960s theory that depression is caused by low levels of serotonin, a brain chemical believed to regulate mood.

Led by Professor Joanna Moncrieff, a respected psychiatrist, the study analyzed decades of research, involving tens of thousands of patients with the condition, and found “no convincing evidence” of a link between the mental illness and serotonin levels.

Professor Joanna Moncrieff, pictured, a psychiatrist at University College London, has led a team of researchers who have disproved the long-held belief of a link between low serotonin levels and depression

Professor Joanna Moncrieff, pictured, a psychiatrist at University College London, has led a team of researchers who have disproved the long-held belief of a link between low serotonin levels and depression

The findings were considered significant, as most antidepressants – used by more than eight million Britons – are designed to increase serotonin levels.

“Thousands suffer from side effects of antidepressants, including the severe withdrawal symptoms that can occur when they try to quit, yet prescriptions continue to rise,” said Prof. Moncrieff. “We think this is caused by the false belief that depression is due to a chemical imbalance. It is time to inform the public that this belief is not rooted in science.”

However, leading brain experts have criticized Prof. Moncrieff, who has authored bestselling books that portray antidepressants in a negative light. They argue that it is not true to say that scientists think that depression is caused by low serotonin levels. Instead, they say the prevailing theory is that depression is caused by many factors and that antidepressants have been clinically shown to help.

dr. Michael Bloomfield, a consultant psychiatrist and a colleague of Prof. Moncrieff’s at University College London, said her conclusion “is wrong.”

“Depression has many different symptoms and I don’t think I’ve met any serious scientists or psychiatrists who think that all the causes of depression are due to a simple chemical imbalance in serotonin.”

He added: ‘[This paper] lumped depression together as if it were a single disorder, which makes no biological sense.”

David Curtis, Honorary Professor, UCL Genetics Institute, agreed: “The idea that depression is the result of a chemical imbalance is outdated, and the Royal College of Psychiatrists wrote that this was an oversimplification in a statement issued in 2019. published.’ Phil Cowen, a professor of psychopharmacology at the University of Oxford, seemed to accuse Prof. Moncrieff of selecting data to meet her hypothesis.

Doctors first found a link between low serotonin levels and depression in the 1960s, later giving GPs a weapon to tackle the condition

Doctors first found a link between low serotonin levels and depression in the 1960s, later giving GPs a weapon to tackle the condition

He pointed out that the review omitted a pivotal study that did suggest that depressed patients had lower levels of compounds integral to serotonin production in their blood.

‘The possible role of serotonin in depression is a different question than the antidepressant effects of’ [antidepressants],’ he said.

Other experts point to multiple studies showing that taking antidepressants can relieve depression, regardless of their effect on serotonin levels.

“Through years of research, we know that antidepressants work and save lives,” said Professor David Nutt, head of the Center for Neuropsychopharmacology at Imperial College London.

‘The conclusions of this article are absurd. The authors have grossly exaggerated the importance of serotonin levels. No one ever said that a serotonin imbalance is the only cause of depression.’

He adds that newer studies, not included in Prof. Moncrieff’s review, that used more accurate testing methods had found “reduced serotonin-release capacity” in people with depression. “It’s premature to reject the serotonin hypothesis of depression at this point,” he said.

Psychiatrists say the exact reason antidepressants work is not understood, but this is not uncommon. “It’s hard to be absolutely sure what makes a drug work in the brain,” says Prof. Nutt. ‘With antidepressants, it can have an effect on things other than serotonin receptors.’

Crucially, they claim that even if depression isn’t caused by a serotonin imbalance, it doesn’t mean it can’t be treated effectively by increasing levels of the chemical in the brain.

Responding to the criticism, Prof. Moncrieff said the aim of the study was not to argue that antidepressants don’t work, but to question whether the pills should be prescribed at all.

“People are told that the reason they feel depressed is that there is something wrong with their brain chemistry and that antidepressants can fix it. But if there’s no evidence that something is wrong with brain chemistry, that doesn’t sound like a sensible solution. This profession has misled people about the need for antidepressants for so long and now doctors don’t want to admit they’re wrong.”

This website uses cookies to improve your experience. We'll assume you're ok with this, but you can opt-out if you wish. Accept Read More