Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Oh no, not another neurobiological theory of depression

When I initially read Scicurious' posting on the Guardian Science blog, I wondered whether it was a spoof. But no, there are some references in the literature to antidepressants increasing neurogenesis in animals. Scicurious wonders whether this may be the mechanism of action of antidepressants, as she's given up on the low serotonin theory of depression.

Scicurious blogs at Neurotic Physiology. She makes clear her view on her About Scicurious page that "we have [now] discovered that all “neuroses” and psychiatric disorders have a physiological basis". I don't want to undermine her faith, but she should make it clear she's just promoting her belief and not call it science.

She notes that "antidepressants do work in some patients". As I've said in a previous post, the way in which they work may be merely as amplified placebos.


Richmond Strange said...

Bearing in mind that there is a physiological basis for everything the brain does or experiences, I would say that her statement is rather obvious and self-evident rather than just an opinion, but that the empirical method requires this kind of research-based evidence.

Even a sociological basis for depression has to be filtered physiologically and will create physiological effects in the brain that are experienced phenomenologically as depression. Unless you are of the opinion that the mind is made of spiritual material and feelings occur in the soul.

I fail to understand your dismissal of 'another neurobiological theory'. I mistrust anti-depressants too, but you seem to be saying that any proposed physiological solution is barking up the wrong tree.

DBDouble said...

Quite right - any physiological solution is barking up the wrong tree. Please don't misunderstand me though. Of course all behaviour, emotions and thoughts have their origin in the brain. It's just that we do not have to hypothesise a brain abnormality for depression.

Bruce Wilson said...

Somewhere along the way, medicine forgot that the brain is connected to the outside world. And so we how have the "it's all in the brain" as we once had "it's all in the unconscious."

Hopefully, the growing field of social and affective neuroscience will get people to look beyond the grey matter and out to family, peers, and the social environment. They are all intimately linked in the etiology of depression.

Bruce Wilson