Q. I thought the chemical imbalance theory of depression was a big step forward in treating depression as a bona fide illness. What are the implications of finding that it is out of date and how long until we have new, more effective treatments?
Answer By: Robert C. Malenka, M.D., Ph.D.
Stanford University School of Medicine
There is no doubt that depression is a bona fide illness. Theories are made to be tested and revised as new scientific knowledge accrues. Even if eventually proven wrong, a theory stimulates research and is necessary for scientific advances. It is impossible to say when new, more effective treatments will be available. The causes of depression are still unknown and developing treatments for mental illnesses is an incredibly challenging task. The good news is that progress is being made using very exciting new approaches and techniques.