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The Social Construction of the Chemical Imbalance Theory: Part III

An important document that these different stages of science led to was the fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), that is, the most current edition of this document. Its descriptions for depression and anxiety reveal that this document reinforces the idea that these illnesses are problems which pertain to the brain. Citing Hasler and Northoff and Ravindran et al., it is stated that many brain regions, including the prefrontal cortex, anterior cingulate, amygdala, and hippocampus have been involved in persistent depressive disorder. Citing Jorge et al. 2004 and Levin et al. 2005, it is also mentioned that depression is associated with traumatic brain injury. Still yet, it has been suggested, though there is no certainty on the matter, that depression might be episodic (that is, recurring), in certain persons with static brain injuries and other CNS diseases (American Psychiatric Association).

Within the description for anxiety, there is much less detail as to the brain’s relation, considering it is only mentioned once. The brain is mentioned within the context of panic attacks, and somewhat surprisingly, no part of the brain is mentioned to cause them. Instead, it is mentioned that people with panic disorder have a tendency to overreact to non-threatening sensations, such as a mild physical symptom or a side effect from a medication. The example listed in the DSM-5 involves a person believing that their headache indicates they have a brain tumor (American Psychiatric Association). What I found most interesting whilst referring to the DSM-5 was how the chemical imbalance theory was not mentioned. I merely have guesses as to why this is the case. As will be explained in greater detail later in this paper, the viability of this explanation has been questioned, so that could be a factor. Nevertheless, I think that mentioning this information from the DSM-5, which again, is a relevant document, has affirmed my point that the chemical imbalance theory has had a major effect on how depression and anxiety are understood and treated. Since I have reached the point of talking about these medications in the contemporary context, I think it is appropriate to look at another implication of modernity: the sales and marketing of pharmaceuticals.

Works Cited

American Psychiatric Association. “Depressive Disorders.” Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders: DSM-5. 5th ed. 2013.


American Psychiatric Association. “Anxiety Disorders.” Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders: DSM-5. 5th ed. 2013.

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