Research Paper: Serotonin and Depression
The idea that depression results from abnormalities in brain chemicals, particularly serotonin, has been influential for decades and provides an important justification for the use of antidepressants.
Despite the fact that the serotonin theory of depression has been so influential, no comprehensive review has yet synthesised the relevant evidence.
This study (citation below) published in Molecular Psychiatry in July 2022 conducted an ‘umbrella’ review of the principal areas of relevant research to establish whether the current evidence supports a role for serotonin in the aetiology of depression, and specifically whether depression is associated with indications of lowered serotonin concentrations or activity.
It found the main areas of serotonin research provide no consistent evidence of an association between serotonin and depression, and no support for the hypothesis that depression is caused by lowered serotonin activity or concentrations.
The main areas of serotonin research provide no consistent evidence of there being an association between serotonin and depression and no support for the hypothesis depression is caused by lowered serotonin activity or concentrations.
This review suggests that the huge research effort based on the serotonin hypothesis has not produced convincing evidence of a biochemical basis for depression.
Citation: Moncrieff, J., Cooper, R.E., Stockmann, T. et al. The serotonin theory of depression: a systematic umbrella review of the evidence. Mol Psychiatry (2022). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41380-022-01661-0