Biochemical imbalance not right explanation

Kudos should certainly be given for the efforts at suicide prevention at Alpena High School that was cited in the Nov. 11, 2013, Alpena News but we do need to discontinue the “biochemical imbalance” explanation for understanding why people experience emotional turmoil and pain. It was these biochemical imbalance theories that were first utilized in marketing the explosion of prescribing psychiatric medication. As time has marched on, though, these theories about what actually causes the experience of depression have been pretty much debunked and disproven even though the overutilization of psychiatric medication has continued (please see “Anatomy of an Epidemic” by Robert Whitaker for an excellent review of that process).

These biochemical imbalance explanations actually serve to discourage people from reaching out for help because of the stigma associated with physical brain disease theories and psychiatric labels. One of the primary reasons that our mental and behavioral health treatment systems have become so ineffective and dysfunctional is because of this overemphasis on labeling and medicating people and where reaching out for help often becomes associated with such coercive processes as forced medicating and involuntary treatment as opposed to the provision of compassionate and empathetic psychological care.

Ted R. Stiger