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What Came First The Chicken Or The Egg: Depression Or A Chemical Imbalance?

The “chicken or the egg dilemma” is a classic question that explores the problem of causality and origins. It asks whether the chicken or the egg came first, highlighting the cyclical nature of cause and effect.

Is major depression, and other labeled disorders, caused by abnormal blood chemistry, or is it rooted in past traumatic events that are remembered unconsciously or consciously?

I contend that the justification for the 40-year-old biomedical model of depression and many other disorders labeled in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) is, at best, pseudoscience.

This medical model has been dominant in the USA for four decades, largely due to the influences of the American Psychiatric Association and pharmaceutical companies.

I assert that the vast majority of our emotional states are formed before the age of eight, with the exception being drug-induced emotional states.

To test my hypothesis, I propose a hypothetical study in which I volunteer myself as the test subject:

First, in a safe environment, I would have a team of medical technicians perform a blood draw and an MRI of my brain.

Next, hypothetically, I would be blindfolded, sleep-deprived, and subjected to torture for five days, including waterboarding. After that hypothetical scenario, I would be experiencing PTSD symptoms and depression.

While such an extreme scenario would be unethical to conduct, it underscores the importance of considering personal history and trauma in understanding mental health conditions.

Shortly after my fictional traumatic experience, a team of biomedical scientists, unaware of my trauma, would then perform another blood draw and another brain MRI. They would then compare my pre- and post-results. I am confident there would be marked differences.

Am I depressed because of what shows up on the MRI? The MRI might show areas of my brain displaying signs of depression. My blood chemistry would also be different before and after. What caused my depression?

Proponents of the biomedical model would argue that I am depressed because the MRI and blood work indicate depression without long-term studies of their hypothesis or knowing my personal history.

In the USA, we are approaching 25% of the population taking medications for mental health reasons. The CDC reports the percentage of individuals in each state on these medications. Arkansas had the highest at 34% and Hawaii the lowest at 13%.

If I were clinically depressed, I might seek a therapist trained in one of the 13 therapy modalities listed in the links below. Of course, I’m not you.

Below is an interview with Joanna Moncrieff. She is a British psychiatrist and academic. She is Professor of Critical and Social Psychiatry at University College London and a leading figure in the Critical Psychiatry Network. She is a prominent critic of the modern ‘psychopharmacological‘ model of mental disorder and drug treatment, and the role of the pharmaceutical industry.

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