Neuroscience made simple

If you think the neuroscience of mental illness is just too complicated to understand, there’s no need to worry your pretty little head about it.

Dr Bonkers has kindly collected explanations of these otherwise poorly understood disorders, simplified for you, by those ever helpful drug industry marketing departments.

Why waste time following those baffling scientific debates about how the most complex organ in the known universe experiences distressing and disabling mental states when the following explanation will suffice:

Although [insert name of mental disorder here] is not fully understood, there is growing evidence that it is caused by an imbalance of chemicals in the brain.

What ‘growing evidence’ can mean is everything from virtually none (in the case of serotonin and depression) to the evidence points to some role for an excess of neurotransmitter action in a particular brain circuit but there is still some contradictory evidence and isn’t a complete explanation of the whole disorder (in the case of dopamine and psychosis).

But who would want to worry patients who already have a lot on their minds with complicated brain science, let alone trouble them with mixed evidence from the results of clinical trials that tested the medication for its usefulness.

It’s interesting to note that the information on Dr Bonkers’ site is all from direct-to-consumer marketing, at a time when psychiatrists themselves are being specifically trained to communicate the complexities of the science to patients.

An excellent Royal College of Psychiatrists podcast tackles how to communicate the results of randomised controlled trials (RCTs) to a patient wanting to know how a drug might affect them.

It’s well worth listening to if you want some insider knowledge that will help you make sense of the marketing claims.

And if you want a simple explanation of the neuroscience of mental disorder and how drugs affect the brain, well, there isn’t one.

Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.

Link to Dr Bonkers’ Science Made Simple (thanks Ben!).
Link to RCP podcast on interpreting drug trials.

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