DEPRESSION is not caused by chemical imbalance in the brain, say experts, calling into question using pills as treatment.
They claim doling out antidepressants to tweak levels of serotonin, often blamed for the blues, is “driven by a false belief”.
People should be told of other treatment options given the side-effects of the pills, their rising widespread use and cost, said a team of researchers.
One in six Brits is on antidepressants and NHS doctors last year doled out £247million worth.
Selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitors, the most common, were prescribed 45 million times at a cost of £108million.
Consultant psychiatrist Joanna Moncrieff led a review of studies at University College London.
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She said: “The popularity of the ‘chemical imbalance’ theory has coincided with a huge increase in the use of antidepressants. This belief is not grounded in science.
"There is no convincing evidence depression is caused by serotonin abnormalities.”
The Royal Society of Psychiatrists urged patients not to ditch their drugs.
It said: “Antidepressants will vary in effectiveness for different people. The reasons are complex.”
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