Belief #1: Depression is directly linked to stress.

In other words, if awful things happen to you, you will become depressed. Stressors include loss of a loved one, a failed job, bad relationship, tragic accident or major financial loss. We call these depressing events, but Redei found that the genes related to stress are totally different from those related to depression.

Belief #2: Depressed people have chemical imbalances in their brains.

For 20 years, researchers have repeated the mantra that low levels of essential messenger molecules—serotonin, dopamine, norepinephrine—lead to depression. "My brain made me feel this way" seems so logical that antidepressants almost entirely work by manipulating levels of neurotransmitters in the brain. But Redei found no depletion of genes that produce these chemicals in depressed people.

It's a wonder, given the false basis of the theory, that any of these drugs work. And some researchers suggest that they don't, but depend, in fact, on a strong placebo response in the patients who are helped. To get back to square one, Redei suggests something that should have been obvious all along: Depression starts higher up than chemicals. It starts with the formation and functioning of neurons. To put it in layman's language, the brain cells in depressed people are adapted to express their depression. This takes the form of neural pathways that carry a message of sadness and hopelessness instead of those pathways that carry a message of happiness and optimism.

How can those suffering from depression get help?