Chemical Imbalances in the Brain

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Chemical Imbalances

The Big Lie

The big lie refers to use of a lie so huge that no one would believe that someone “could have the impudence to distort the truth so infamously.” Its corollary states, “if you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, eventually people will come to believe it.” Countless trusted physicians, following the pharmaceutical industry, made use of this propaganda technique for years without a shred of evidence that “mental disorders” were the result of a “chemical imbalance in the brain”.

Finally, it was no longer possible to hide the fact that “medicine” was unable to identify which chemicals were “out of balance”. This was demonstrated as the very doctors who made the claim blindly prescribed a series of drugs as if hoping to stumble onto something that worked. Finally the industry sheepishly admitted that there is absolutely no evidence for this claim, but this admission was presented with a tiny percentage of the support of the original lie. To this day a majority of health-care consumers still believe it.

Surveys of medical literature published from 1998 forward found no evidence for a relationship between any mental or emotional problem and brain chemistry, yet physicians and TV ad campaigns targeted directly at consumers continued to present chemical imbalance as truth for more than a decade.

Negative effects of these drugs

Anyone who has ever taken major psycho-active drugs is fully aware that you do NOT stop taking them easily. Physicians suggest titrating dosage for months or more before a person can stop taking them—during which time, of course, the drug continues to be purchased and the doctor paid to prescribe it. But the negative effects of going “cold turkey” from these drugs are well documented—up to and including suicide. What happens to make these drugs so “addictive” in the worst sense of the word?

An anti-depressant drug that works to change the levels of serotonin artificially at the synapse in the brain produces an effect. The effect is not a lasting changes in energy patterns, so any benefit is temporary. However, it can produce a lasting effect that is not desirable. Studies have shown that the brain responds to artificially high levels of, for example, serotonin in its synapses by actually closing down serotonin receptor sites. In other words—if there actually were low levels of serotonin—the medication results in the brain becoming LESS able to pass serotonin from neuron to neuron.

When you stop artificially increasing serotonin levels by stopping the drug, functional levels drop BELOW where they were before you started. They stay low until the brain gets around to re-opening receptor sites.

Withdrawal is defined as the symptoms that occur upon the abrupt discontinuation or decrease in intake of substances. In order to experience the symptoms of withdrawal, one must have first developed a physical or mental dependence. If you choose to take such a drug, it is addiction and bad. When a physician gives the drug, it is medication and good.

Rarely have drug company releases over the past 20 years been new compounds with new effects. Instead they have been drugs that increasingly build up lasting and addictive blood levels. This is presented as a convenience to consumers, as an improvement in quality and stability of the drug effects, but the outcome is to make it harder for users to stop taking the drugs.

The Basis for the Drug Culture

Many technical articles published to demonstrate effectiveness and safety of these compounds—funded by the drug companies—show small statistical changes from placebo sugar pills. The lists of potential side-effects of the drugs are so daunting people don’t even look at. Studies of long-term effects on quality of life or, even more scary, on safety of their long-term use—especially with children—simply aren’t there. There would be no problem tracking such things, if anyone wanted to know.

The task would be made more difficult by the common practice among physicians for “off-label” application. No studies whatsoever—much less FDA approved—exist for these uses, but physicians hear about them from drug reps, or creative colleagues. Positive effects are often so small—or transitory or complicated by serious side-effects—that it is a rare person taking just one.

I’ve seen 5 and 6-year-olds receiving a psycho-stimulant, an anti-depressant, an anti-convulsant and, more recently, an anti-psychotic at the same time. So they could get along better at school and at home. The effects of these cocktails are often just “stunning”. People don’t really feel better—they just don’t feel.

In such cases an initial course of brain training may focus primarily on smoothing the transition from multi-drug cocktails to “un-medicated”. But the training can make a big difference in speed and discomfort of detox. Training to change levels of activation in the brain affects neurotransmitters. As artificial levels are being removed, the brain itself replaces them and adjusts receptor levels.

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