Depression and Heart Disease

The American Heart Association now considers a diagnosis of depression a risk factor for heart disease, along with smoking, obesity and diabetes. Depression can usually be resolved through good individual or group psychotherapy.

Depression is far too complex an experience to reduce to “chemical imbalance”, and no scientific research has shown a cause and effect relationship between any one brain chemical or psychosocial dysfunction and the disorder. Structural size of certain brain regions, and even probiotic relationships in the human gut also show important correlations with depression. As the MacArthur-winning biological psychologist/animal behaviorist Robert Sapolsky’s brilliant research clearly outlines, we’re far, far from understanding the nature-nurture interaction in human emotional experience.

Unfortunately the pharmaceutical industry’s successful advertising campaign had convinced about 85% of 262 undergraduates surveyed in a 2007 study that chemical imbalance likely causes depression. At best this is a gross oversimplification designed to sell psychiatric drugs; at worst, it’s an unethical plague upon the mis-informed public.

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