Debunking the Chemical Imbalance Theory, Part II

three sheep walking

This is Part II of Debunking the Chemical Imbalance theory. Part I can be found here. Psychiatry, like most hard sciences, suffers as research trickle down from laboratories to the mainstream. Take our friend from Part I, Harvard neuropsychopharmacologist Joseph Schildkraut, who said in 1965 that the chemical imbalance theory was “at best a reductionistic…

Read More

Debunking the Chemical Imbalance Theory, Part I

moneky eating a fruit

I’m going to take the time to dive into the chemical imbalance theory of depression, and why it’s a big ‘o pile of crap. I’m taking the time to do this because 80% of people believe that depression is caused by a chemical imbalance, despite overwhelming evidence otherwise. Today I will focus on the history…

Read More

You Aren’t in Traffic. You Are The Traffic.

a girl standing on hands on a woodem bridge in a green city park

As I was taking my car to get serviced at 7:30 this morning, I pulled onto the highway and was met with a line of cars backed up for miles. I cursed myself for a moment, annoyed that I chose to take the highway at peak rush hour instead of taking the back roads. Whether…

Read More

Why Happiness Practice Matters

woman walking through the field of pink tulips

I find myself writing to you today from a rather odd place. There is pressure surrounding a particular issue in my personal life, and I can feel my inner world preparing for the earth to crack open. This isn’t unexpected, and the details don’t matter. But it renders a newsletter about happiness as a skill…

Read More

The 51% Theory, or, Factual Optimism

Brroke Siem on green-yellow bike

Healing Depression through Factual Optimism How do we find happiness when we are still depressed or in antidepressant withdrawal? We don’t. At least, we don’t aim for big changes. Instead, we go for getting it right 51% of the time. If we quantify happiness onto a scale that ranges from 0% happy to 100% happy,…

Read More


may cause side effects a memoir book picture and author brooke siem

When I started Happiness Is A Skill, I did it for two reasons. First, I wanted to have an outlet to talk about mental/emotional health and antidepressant withdrawal without enmeshing myself in social media. The topography of those niches on Twitter is a nightmare, and I couldn’t bring myself to swim around in that muck.…

Read More

Your Life Purpose Isn’t Always What You Think It Is

I went for a walk this morning like I almost always do when I’m home in Nevada. My house is tucked up against the rolling desert, with trails zig zagging through the sagebrush. A small creek flows through the valley, prompting cattail to grow in the damp soil and mountain bluebirds to sing in the…

Read More

How to Begin Healing from Depression

Back during my days of deep depression, one of my unconscious coping techniques was to put down the little things that brought other people joy. The phrase “that’s stupid” fell out of my mouth like a tick. Nothing and no one was safe. The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge? Stupid. Just donate money without the attention.…

Read More

The Drowned Man

A parable, borrowed from the religious but relevant for the atheists: A man is alone in his home when the storm comes. The local news channel tells him to evacuate, to move to higher ground, but instead, he shakes his head and says, “I will pray to my God and he is going to save…

Read More

What are you running from?

Over the past six months, I have watched a curious trend develop amongst the people in my circle. Faced with a clear threat — COVID-19 — two courses have emerged. First is the group that follows whatever rules and precautions that exist where they live but who also generally accept that COVID is a part of life. These are…

Read More