The Serotonin Theory of Depression: Debunked?

adminDepression, Mental Health, Treatments of Depression Leave a Comment

For decades, the serotonin theory of depression has been the prevailing explanation for the disorder. The theory holds that depression is caused by low levels of serotonin, a neurotransmitter that plays a role in mood regulation. This theory has led to the development of many popular antidepressants, which work by increasing serotonin levels in the brain.

However, a new study published in the journal Nature Molecular Psychiatry challenges the serotonin theory of depression. The study, which was conducted by researchers at University College London, found that there is no convincing evidence that low serotonin levels cause depression.

The researchers conducted a systematic umbrella review of the evidence from over 360 studies that examined the relationship between serotonin and depression. They found that the majority of studies found no clear association between low serotonin levels and depression. In fact, some studies even found that people with depression have normal or even high serotonin levels.

The researchers concluded that the serotonin theory of depression is not supported by the evidence. They believe that depression is more likely caused by a complex interaction of factors, including genetics, environment, and lifestyle.

This study has important implications for the way we think about and treat depression. It suggests that we need to move away from the idea of a “chemical imbalance” and start looking at depression as a more complex disorder. This could lead to the development of new treatments that are more effective and tailored to the individual. If you are struggling with depression, it is important to talk to your doctor about your treatment options. There is no one-size-fits-all approach to depression treatment, so it is important to find what works best for you.


Moncrieff, J., Cooper, R.E., Stockmann, T. et al. The serotonin theory of depression: a systematic umbrella review of the evidence. Mol Psychiatry (2022).