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Lacasse, 2005 Serotonin and Depression: A Disconnect between the Advertisements and the Scientific Literature

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Altostrata

What is the basis of the "chemical imbalance" or "serotonin deficiency" theory of depression?
 
PLoS Med. 2005 Dec;2(12):e392. Epub 2005 Nov 8.
Serotonin and depression: a disconnect between the advertisements and the scientific literature.
Lacasse JR1, Leo J.
 
Abstract at http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16268734/ Full free text at http://www.plosmedicine.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pmed.0020392 and http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1277931/
 
 
From the paper:
 
In the United States, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) antidepressants are advertised directly to consumers [1]. These highly successful direct-to-consumer advertising (DTCA) campaigns have largely revolved around the claim that SSRIs correct a chemical imbalance caused by a lack of serotonin (see Tables 1 and ​and2).2). For instance, sertraline (Zoloft) was the sixth best-selling medication in the US in 2004, with over $3 billion in sales [2] likely due, at least in part, to the widely disseminated advertising campaign starring Zoloft's miserably depressed ovoid creature. Research has demonstrated that class-wide SSRI advertising has expanded the size of the antidepressant market [3], and SSRIs are now among the best-selling drugs in medical practice [2].
 
Given the multifactorial nature of depression and anxiety, and the ambiguities inherent in psychiatric diagnosis and treatment, some have questioned whether the mass provision of SSRIs is the result of an over-medicalized society. These sentiments were voiced by Lord Warner, United Kingdom Health Minister, at a recent hearing: “…I have some concerns that sometimes we do, as a society, wish to put labels on things which are just part and parcel of the human condition”[4]. He went on to say, “Particularly in the area of depression we did ask the National Institute for Clinical Excellence [an independent health organisation that provides national guidance on treatment and prevention] to look into this particular area and their guideline on depression did advise non-pharmacological treatment for mild depression” [4]. Sentiments such as Lord Warner's, about over-medicalization, are exactly what some pharmaceutical companies have sought to overcome with their advertising campaigns. For example, Pfizer's television advertisement for the antidepressant sertraline (Zoloft) stated that depression is a serious medical condition that may be due to a chemical imbalance, and that “Zoloft works to correct this imbalance” [5]. Other SSRI advertising campaigns have also claimed that depression is linked with an imbalance of the neurotransmitter serotonin, and that SSRIs can correct this imbalance (see Table 2). The pertinent question is: are the claims made in SSRI advertising congruent with the scientific evidence?
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Linus

I know the moderators on this forum do not endorse the 'serotonine myth', neither do I. Here is an interesting article from the British Medical Journal from 2005 debunking the myth:

 

http://journals.plos.org/plosmedicine/article?id=10.1371/journal.pmed.0020392

 

I guess the real question is, why do the majority of psychiatrists who are supposed to be specialists in their field,  keep prescribing antidepressants...

 

The article is from 2005 !

 

I guess there are a few candidates: the influence of big pharma, the mechanistic world view that holds sway in the western world which more and more turns psychiatry into biological psychiatry coupled with the desire of psychiatrists to be like exact scientists.

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nz11

That was a terrific article Linus thankyou so much for posting it.

gee 2005 how come this has gone under the radar for many years.

 

Did you read about the posting of journal article formats. SA has a requested format. I can have a go at it if you like. 

 

 

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Linus

No I have not heard, please explain.

 

Glad you liked it, I agree it is a good article, I like to say psychiatry itself is sick and a lot of psychiatrist, (not all ! ) are arrogant and ignorant.

 

 

 

 

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Linus

Ok, I read the guidelines, however it seems I can not edit my post...

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nz11

Have a go at it and maybe the mods can shuffle the posts around.

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Altostrata

Merged new topic with pre-existing topic. Please comment here.

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