Chemical Imbalance ??

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Doctor mentioned I have a chemical imbalance in my body and will probadly always need medication to keep my anxiety/panic/depression under control...

anyone else has thoughts on this

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15 Replies

  • Posted

    Hi I think this is ridiculous!   How do they know you have a chemical inbalance in your body?  Have they measured it?   I didn't know they could do this and I don't think they can.  The theory behind ad's etc. is that it is caused by a chemical inbalance but that's just a theory.  

    Many people only take meds short term then come off them.   I don't know of anyone who has been told they will be on them for life unless they have schzophrenia or something which is different.   I would see how it goes in the future.  Have you had counselling?   That might help too.  Take care.  x

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  • Posted

    Hi Ellebi,

    Yes I have been told the same thing.

    The theory behind it doesn't have a great deal of evidence to back the idea up, as hypercat said, I'm not sure how one would measure a chemical imbalance.

    Anyway it's been described to me as endogenous depression, which from what I understand means a depression caused by a chemical imbalance in the brain (ie not producing enough serotonin) as opposed to a reactionary depression at stressful life events.

    My doctor told me this after looking at my family tree as on my mother's side we can go back generations and generations of severe mental health problems, so her feeling in relation to me, was that there was some genetic flaw that was being passed down, rather than "just" depressed parents raising their kids in stressful situations and that being how the mental health problems were passed on.

    I hope this makes some sense.

    She said the type of depression you seem to be experiencing and certainly what I am experiencing is like being a diabetic who doesn't produce enough insulin, so has to make up for this with medication.

    You may just not be producing enough of the serotonin and this is why your dr has said you'll likely need meds forever.

    It is not something to get yourself worried about. It is just a theory as far as I can understand.

    Also, if you do need to take meds long term then that's ok, you don't need to feel worried or ashamed about that.

    I think your dr was probably trying to reassure you and/or prepare you for a longer time on medication.

    Try not to worry about it.

    Best wishes xxx

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    • Posted

      Hey Audrey, my illness gets worse when I have too much dopamine in my brain, which can lead to mania and psychosis. I take lithium and citalopram for it. I have been in hospital 5 times in my life and have just returned to work after being psychotic in January. I refused to continue with the anti psychotic as the side effects were awful.
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    • Posted

      Agh I'm sorry to hear of all your struggles.

      Congratulations on getting back to work, that's a great achievement.

      I know I think people who prescribe certain meds obviously have never taken them before because some side effects are AWFUL. It's worse than the symptoms they are trying to help in some cases and others totally counter productive. I remember one tablet made me vomit every single day, I told my dr and she was like, "but is it helping your mood?" Well no not really because I've got my head over the toilet being sick all the time so I'm not exactly jumping for joy!

      Anyway my point is that I think you've done amazingly well to get back to work, I hope it's the start of some happier times ahead for you.

      Much love and admiration xxxx

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    • Posted

      audrey - it's interesting, and wise, to point out that some medications have horrifying side effects. When I was hospitalized, I took Nardil for drepression (a last ditch effort before ECT). I responded to it. The first antidepressant to which I have ever responded. But my blood pressure was at stroke level the entire time. Until this year, I have had my depression meds changed from one SSRI to another. I was on massive amounts of Wellbutrin and it did nothing for me.

      My GP put me on 225mg daily dosage of Effefor (venlafaxine) and in the first few days I noticed that I wasn't as depressed. I saw my shrink about ten days later and told him what had happened. He asked me if I had suffered through any side effects. I told him that I had them all - from the very common to the extremely rare but that I felt better than I had since 1996. Sometimes you just need to make a self-evaluation (using the same subjective 1-10 scale that is used for pain) - if you're at a 6 and you were at a 10 for weeks on end before taking the meds, then they're working. And the side effects will subside.

      Believe it or not, I can control the hypergraphia that I developed when first on Effexor.

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  • Posted

    Yeah, I have a chemical imbalance in my brain and am bi polar. I have been on meds for twenty two years. I am on lithium and citalopram, sometimes I have to go on a anti psychotic, I don't like the anti psychotic, though.
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  • Posted

    The debate over whether mental disorders are the result of physical/chemical abnormalities or the result of environmental perception (nature versus nurture) have been under debate for centuries. Most physical physicians and mental physicians think that it's a bit of both. All would agree that life with no dopamine wouldn't, well, suck.

    But I agree with hypercat, unless you've undergone some pretty invasive surgery (cranium removed, slices of brain tissue sliced away, etc.) – and, really, not even then – can any measurements of your "brain chemistry" be measured. Unless you have some sort of significant bond with this doctor, I would seek another opinion.

    Having said that, I have been on anti-anxiety medication since 1987 and antidepressants since 1988 and will be, no doubt, for the remainder of my life. I was hospitalized from 1999-2002 and only became communicable after a series of ECT sessions.

    But no one doctor that I have ever had has used the words "chemical imbalance" around me and no doctor in my first ten years, or longer, ever mentioned that I might need to be on drugs for the remainder of my life. That's just the way that things turned out – FOR ME.

    Since 1999 I have been diagnosed with different severities of Major Depressive Disorder (there's a new name for it in the DSM-5), different types of psychoses and anxiety/panic disorders. I take three different meds for each; some 5 times daily, one 4 times a day and another 3 times daily.

    Does that make me an addict? It depends on your definition. I don't abuse drugs (take more than prescribed, sell them, etc.) but I am dependent on them.

    You doctor was out of line in telling you that you had a chemical imbalance and in telling you that you would have to be on medications for the remainder of your life. He or she has no way to predict the future. If you trust the doctor in all other respects, confront them and ask them how they discovered these chemicals.

    Or get the opinion of another doctor.

    Oh, is this doctor a psychiatrist or a GP or have a specialty?

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    • Posted

      I agree with a lot of what you said and you clearly have a hell of a lot of experience with mental health issues, but I just wanted to say one thing.

      I've had a lot of doctors (GPs) and psychologists and the like use the term "chemical imbalance", and I don't think they really mean it in such the literal way that some people are suggesting. I think it is their way of trying to explain a very difficult problem for anyone to understand/come to terms with, especially when they are in a vulnerable position.

      I can obviously only speak from my experience but when the term has been used around me, it's been done in a way to try and reassure me. Like, it's not your fault you're depressed it's the chemicals in your brain not working how they should. Does that make sense?

      I'm sure everyone can agree that there's no way, sat in a regular GP surgery, that brain chemistry can be properly examined. I think it's a turn of phrase used by some medical professionals to reassure or explain in some way mental health problems.

      Equally I think that being told you'll likely be on meds forever is a way of reassuring a patient that its ok to take the meds. There's so much stigma around depression and taking medication for it (obviously) I think it's a way of making the patient feel better about it.

      Just my thoughts anyhow. Good luck to you and best wishes xxx

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  • Posted

    What medication have you been put on, would they use ssri ADs to treat it
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  • Posted

    Hi just interested as to what meds you have been perscribed
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    • Posted

      At the moment after coming withdrawing from the Effexor XL two months ago, I am on Pregalin (Lyrica) 150mg daily, Xanax when required and now I am meant to begin to Lustral (Setraline)
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