Steve Taylor Ph.D.
Out of the Darkness
Some people have a simplistic belief that depression is caused by a chemical imbalance in the brain. It is usually ascribed to a low level of a neurotransmitter called serotonin, and depressed people are routinely prescribed medication which increases the level of serotonin in their brain. However, as I pointed out in aprevious post, it is highly problematic to view depression in these terms.
Rather than seeing depression as a neurological condition, we should view it in terms of environmental and existential factors. Sometimes it is easy to highlight the source of a person’s depression. People get depressed because relationships end, loved ones die, or they lose their jobs. They get depressed because they are poor, live in deprived areas with a high crimerate, or because they are the target of prejudice and disrespect.
But as we all know, depression can also arise in a more subtle way, with sources that are difficult to pinpoint. Depression can be related to “hidden” psychological factors such as a person’s negative thinking style, or early life trauma which has been repressed but creates psychological discord. It could be due to a lack of sense of purpose and meaning, a lack of love, or even a lack of contact with nature. Giving a person antidepressantsmay not, in some cases, target the root problem.