A wider definition of trauma needed and looking beyond the ‘chemical imbalance’ theory.

There are people who suffer from mental health who deny trauma. I think it’s due to people’s idea of trauma, lack of awareness in general and how limited it’s definition is in our world. This leads to some thinking it has to be this extreme and horrific and unimaginable forms of abuse in childhood only, a single event, or some catastrophic event and natural disaster, which of cause it can. However, the world view of trauma denies the more subtle and hidden forms and the societal injustices that are part of the lives we live, which whilst some are more privileged, nobody is immune to a diseased and corrupted world and fellow human beings. It means that much trauma can remain unrecognisable or not validated and even denied by those it many have affected as they may not be aware of what is trauma, even if their bodies carry, hold and have responded to it through diseases or mental health.

This societal definition is at the root of other’s feeling they have to deny their own trauma or feel they have to compare it to those who “have it worse”. Nobody say’s don’t be happy because someone is happier or as more to be happy about. Pain is pain, trauma is trauma. We should not live in a world where we have to be made to prove our pain, or to experience horrific things to be made worthy of our pain. What’s important isn’t the traumatic event that matters most, but the individual’s perception  (consciously or unconsciously) of the severity. In Peter Levine’s book: Healing Trauma he asserts that “trauma is trauma, no matter what caused it.” These small things can be having nobody to turn too as child, having good parents but who were not able to emotionally be attuned or supportive…it can be bullying, divorce, unemployment…these things can be traumatic and can lead to our mental health being affected. It takes just one event to lead to a mental breakdown, addictions or suicidality.

It’s not about people making it all about trauma, it’s being trauma informed and aware, one can’t deny that the whole environment we live in is a traumatised one.

Also, many have been made to believe that mental illness is caused by a chemical imbalance, however, this is a myth. Although some research links chemical imbalances in the brain to depression symptoms, scientists argue that this is not the whole picture .In fact, no experiment has ever shown that anyone has an ‘imbalance’ of any neurotransmitters or any other brain chemicals. The entire theory was hypothetical. Over the last ten years, independent research has continually shown the chemical imbalance theory to be false.

The National Institutions of Health state: “that if depression were solely due to chemical imbalances, treatments that target neurotransmitters, such as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), should work faster. This doesn’t mean that medication cannot be helpful nor is it to say, that mental illness isn’t deliberating or real, of course it is and it’s torturous, brain changes are real and people have lost their lives to it, but we have not been given the right information. Again, I want to make it clear that debunking the chemical imbalance theory is not to dismiss that biological factors play an important role in serious mental illness, including but not limited to major depression, bipolar disorder, and schizophrenia but that this isn’t the cause of them. The Psychiatric Times has an article that talks about this, named: Debunking the Two Chemical Imbalance Myths Again.

Mental health is complex and multifaceted, and numerous factors can affect a person’s mental well-being.

I believe awareness, education and debunking myths is such an integral part in healing and recovery. I really get tired of the world telling trauma survivors to be resilient instead of changing the systems that need to be changed or challenging things that need to change. We are constantly learning and it’s important we are able to learn and de-learn and learn again.

Resources online: 









The Myth of normal by Gabor and Dan Mate

Healing Trauma and Waking the Tiger-healing trauma by Peter Levine