Better Living through Chemistry?

Dear Readers, I have had numerous requests lately from those searching for information on so called chemical imbalance and its role in how women feel so I am re-posting this entry. 

As always, this blog is not intended to treat or diagnose any medical condition. If you believe you are ill, see a qualified physician. If you have been taking prescribed medication do not stop taking your medication without the advise or consent of your doctor.

The number one reason people take medication of any kind is to feel better.
Whether it is an aspirin for a headache or Celebrex for arthritis, the goal is to eliminate the pain and suffering they are dealing with. Every day on your TV box you are presented with at least a dozen commercials showing you hurting people. Each of these ads contribute to the daily mantra of you must feel good, you must not be unhappy.
“Depression hurts, Cymbalta can help”
Lexapro tells you it will give you “the power to enjoy life”
Another woman’s smiling face infers that now that she takes Wellbutrin “I am ready to experience life”
The medications people are taking are for diagnosis known as mental illnesses or something that ends with the word “disorder.” It is known as better living through chemistry.
What Eli Lilly, Phizer and the other pharma think they are medicating are mental illness and emotional disorders. They say they are treating illness, and disease and disorder.
Illnesses are dis-eases. Some things we know to be illnesses are diabetes, cancer, over or under active thyroid. They are things that cause change to organs or cellular structure. They are not just diagnosed on how a person feels.
When a person who feels “bad,” sad, or anxious goes to the doctor, he should be doing blood work to rule out the obvious disease processes. By blood work and other tests that follow the scientific process, he can make a preliminary diagnosis as to if the patient has one of at least 70 scientifically proven illnesses that have as a side effect emotional problems. From these objective medical tests, the doctor can see that there is a medical problem that needs attention. One such illness would have to do with the thyroid. If the thyroid is not functioning properly a person will feel “bad”, be depressed, or anxious. The emotional problems are a symptom of the true illness. Once the illness hyper or hypo-thyroidism or even thyroid cancer is diagnosed and treatment has begun the feelings of depression or anxiety will dissipate. The doctor has made a correct diagnosis and treatment for the illness is underway. Success!
If there is an infection then antibiotics are prescribed, if there is a procedure needed it is scheduled or performed. However, if those blood tests come back normal, and there is no other sign of a disease process verifiable through subjective medical testing- then what? No doctor will allow you to come in and get medication or have a procedure done based on your word that there is a problem. Anyone who has ever gone to the doctor with a bad cold knows that! If that doctor cannot prove you need an antibiotic not even an act of Congress is going to get it for you.
When all medical testing comes back normal the fall back diagnosis is some sort of mental disorder, or a mental illness is suspected. If you have been in the situation where every test has been done and they all come back normal the doctor will usually suggest or refer you to a psychiatrist because there is no evidence there is a physical problem, therefore they conclude it is a mental one. The result of that visit is a diagnosis and a prescription for a psychotropic medication.
This is where the controversy lies from our perspective as well as the other respected physicians, psychologists and neurophysiologists who share our concern over the explosion of these diagnoses.
To be clear, I am not questioning the desire of medical professionals to help their patients. What I do question is the treatment of feelings and emotions with medications that are not treating true abnormal physiology.
What I do question is how right it is medically and morally to pump people (including children) full of medication that alters the brain chemicals, brain wave patterns, and physical structure when there is no medical basis for it?
In the opinion of many respected medical professionals (and that number is steadily growing) it is not good to be handing these medications out so people can “feel better.”
Such is the diagnosis of The Chemical Imbalance Theory which says:
One of the chemicals in your brain that is abnormally high or low. The ones you have heard about are serotonin and dopamine. Another thing you may have heard about is that lithium levels are too high or low.
The theory states that the sending nerve sends information to the receiving nerve using chemical neurotransmitters like serotonin and dopamine. These chemicals ensure the message moves forward and that the nerve cells continue to communicate. These neurotransmitters are very important to us because they determine what we feel. We would be without emotion if they did not exist. The chemicals send an electrical impulse that “jumps” the gap or synapse and completes the transfer of information.
The theory also states that the problem is in the neurotransmitters in ability to complete the jump, or to over jump the synapse giving false information to the brain in how to respond and how to feel. They say that because these brain chemicals are abnormal they interfere with the transfer of impulses from the nerve endings in the synaptic junction and this leads to feeling bad, and also to having bad or bizarre behavior.
This sounds great, but the problem is that there is no science to back this up. There are no conclusive studies to prove this theory. The only known way a person can be tested with any accurate conclusion is by a brain biopsy. And those are usually only done on dead people.
Chemical imbalance theories are just that- simply guesses that cannot be tested by any means other than subjective data accumulation.
The touted brain scans and PET scans are also not reliable methods for diagnosing these things either.
This stuff has been accepted widely as medical fact- however- there is a complete lack of medical evidence to prove any such thing exists. Research has provided conflicting and unreliable results.
There is a complete lack of medical evidence to prove any such thing exists.
To determine what abnormal is we must first know what normal is. It is impossible to know what normal is for any brain chemical at this time, because we are not able to measure any amount of any of the 150 known brain chemicals. Medical science has not advanced to the point where the synaptic junction can be measured either.
You might be sitting there and thinking “well there must be something wrong with me that these pills are fixing because ever since I began taking them I have felt better.” The doctor told you that you have a chemical imbalance in your brain, and the pills are fixing the levels so you feel better.
The question must then be asked- if we are not medicating genuine physiology, what is being medicated? Are we really medicating emotions? Are people being made to feel better artificially? I would have to say in the clear majority of cases, yes. Based on my research, yes. The majority of people taking medication are not being treated for anything medical- it is for the sake of feeling better.
Now this may upset some of you, I realize that; especially if you are currently taking some form of anti-depressant or other psychotropic medication. What I am going to ask of you, is to withhold your conclusion that I don’t know what I am talking about until you have read all the references I will provide for you. I am also going to warn you again NOT to stop taking any medication prescribed for you by a doctor. Many of these medications require medical supervision to get off of, and stopping them without medical supervision could be very dangerous!  
Check out these resources: Toxic Psychology, Dr Peter Breggin; Deceptive Diagnosis, Kurt Grady; Why Christians Can’t Trust Psychology, Dr. Ed Bulkley, Seeing Depression Through the Eyes of Grace, Julie Ganschow, or simply do a google search on the chemical imbalance theory.