Chemically Imbalanced: the Making and Unmaking of the Serotonin Myth.
Joanna Moncrieff

Chemically Imbalanced: the Making and Unmaking of the Serotonin Myth.

For decades now the public has been told that depression is caused by a chemical imbalance and that antidepressants work by targeting this mechanism. Millions of people have decided to take antidepressants based on this information.

Chemically Imbalanced tells the story of a scientific myth and its consequences. It traces the history of the serotonin theory of depression from its development in the 1960s, through its inculcation into popular culture in the 1990s, to the recent revelations that it is not supported by evidence. The story illustrates the power of human interests to shape what passes as scientific knowledge, and provides people with essential information about depression and antidepressants they will not readily find elsewhere.  

The book:

  • Shows how the public have been misled about the causes of depression and the actions of antidepressants
  • Explains how the biological model of depression is a misunderstanding, and presents an alternative view of depression as a meaningful, emotional reaction
  • Shows how this common-sense view was deliberately suppressed by the pharmaceutical industry, aided by the medical profession, in order to market antidepressants
  • Reveals there is no justification for believing that drugs like antidepressants target underlying brain abnormalities, be that a chemical imbalance or anything else
  • Suggests that instead these drugs induce characteristic mental and physical alterations in the manner of alcohol and other psychoactive drugs
  • Presents an historical account that shows how the chemical imbalance theory of depression and very idea of an antidepressant drug arose from wishful thinking rather than solid scientific evidence
  • Reveals how the scientific evidence does not support the theory that depression is caused by, or even linked to, serotonin abnormalities
  • Describes the defensive and contradictory response of the psychiatric profession to the publication of the serotonin paper, and explores reasons for the profession’s investment in biological theories of depression
  • Describes evidence from clinical trials of antidepressants, and shows how they do not demonstrate that antidepressants ‘work’
  • Describes emerging evidence of serious long-term complications of antidepressant use, including severe withdrawal effects and persistent sexual dysfunction 
  • Describes the censorship of debate about antidepressants, drawing parallels with covid and suggesting the pandemic set a precedent for cancelling inconvenient scientific views
  • Concludes that what passes as the scientific consensus on depression and antidepressants amounts to an ongoing scientific fraud, perpetuated in the interests of profit and professional status

Book Details:

  • Author: Joanna Moncrieff
  • On Submission
  • Rights Sold
    • UK: The History Press
Joanna Moncrieff

Joanna Moncrieff

Joanna Moncrieff obtained her medical degree from the University of Newcastle upon Tyne. She is Professor of critical and social psychiatry at University College London, and also works as a consultant psychiatrist in the National Health Service in London. She has written two academic books about psychiatric drugs published by Palgrave Macmillan, a guide for the public, published by PCCS Books, and a guide for therapists commissioned by the All Party Parliamentary Group for Prescribed Drug Dependence. She has been awarded large government grants to study psychiatric drug treatment, and has p...
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