Chemical Imbalance Theory Laid To Rest

Written by Jim Folk
Medically reviewed by Marilyn Folk, BScN.
Last updated May 16, 2021
Anxiety Tip

Dr. Ronald Pies, the editor-in-chief emeritus of the Psychiatric Times, put the Chemical Imbalance Theory as a cause for anxiety disorder finally to rest.

After more than 40 years, the Chemical Imbalance Theory as a cause for anxiety disorder has finally been completely put to rest.

On July 11, 2011, Dr. Ronald Pies, the editor-in-chief emeritus of the Psychiatric Times, laid the theory to rest in the July 11, 2011, issue of the Times with his admission:

“In the past 30 years, I don’t believe I have ever heard a knowledgeable, well- trained psychiatrist make such a preposterous claim [about chemical imbalance in the brain], except perhaps to mock it”

“And yes, the ‘chemical imbalance’ image has been vigorously promoted by some pharmaceutical companies, often to the detriment of our patients’ understanding.”

“In truth, the “chemical imbalance” notion was always a kind of urban legend - never a theory seriously propounded by well-informed psychiatrists."

Shortly after, pharmaceutical companies said they used the chemical imbalance theory as a “metaphor” and that the theory wasn’t ever intended to be understood as an actual imbalance. It wasn’t long after that that the chemical imbalance notion was dropped from all of their marketing materials.

No, anxiety is NOT caused by a chemical imbalance in the brain. It never was.

You can read more about the demise of the Chemical Imbalance Theory.

The combination of good self-help information and working with an experienced anxiety disorder therapist, coach, or counselor is the most effective way to address anxiety and its many symptoms. Until the core causes of anxiety are addressed – which we call the underlying factors of anxiety – a struggle with anxiety unwellness can return again and again. Dealing with the underlying factors of anxiety is the best way to address problematic anxiety.

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