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From the New York Times bestselling author of Chasing the Scream: The First and Last Days of the War on Drugs, a startling challenge to our thinking about depression and anxiety. Award-winning journalist Johann Hari suffered from depression since he was a child and started taking antidepressants when he was a teenager. He was told—like his entire generation—that his problem From the New York Times bestselling author of Chasing the Scream: The First and Last Days of the War on Drugs, a startling challenge to our thinking about depression and anxiety. Award-winning journalist Johann Hari suffered from depression since he was a child and started taking antidepressants when he was a teenager. He was told—like his entire generation—that his problem was caused by a chemical imbalance in his brain. As an adult, trained in the social sciences, he began to investigate this question—and he learned that almost everything we have been told about depression and anxiety is wrong. Across the world, Hari discovered social scientists who were uncovering the real causes—and they are mostly not in our brains, but in the way we live today. Hari’s journey took him from the people living in the tunnels beneath Las Vegas, to an Amish community in Indiana, to an uprising in Berlin—all showing in vivid and dramatic detail these new insights. They lead to solutions radically different from the ones we have been offered up until now. Just as Chasing the Scream transformed the global debate about addiction, with over twenty million views for his TED talk and the animation based on it, Lost Connections will lead us to a very different debate about depression and anxiety—one that shows how, together, we can end this epidemic.


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From the New York Times bestselling author of Chasing the Scream: The First and Last Days of the War on Drugs, a startling challenge to our thinking about depression and anxiety. Award-winning journalist Johann Hari suffered from depression since he was a child and started taking antidepressants when he was a teenager. He was told—like his entire generation—that his problem From the New York Times bestselling author of Chasing the Scream: The First and Last Days of the War on Drugs, a startling challenge to our thinking about depression and anxiety. Award-winning journalist Johann Hari suffered from depression since he was a child and started taking antidepressants when he was a teenager. He was told—like his entire generation—that his problem was caused by a chemical imbalance in his brain. As an adult, trained in the social sciences, he began to investigate this question—and he learned that almost everything we have been told about depression and anxiety is wrong. Across the world, Hari discovered social scientists who were uncovering the real causes—and they are mostly not in our brains, but in the way we live today. Hari’s journey took him from the people living in the tunnels beneath Las Vegas, to an Amish community in Indiana, to an uprising in Berlin—all showing in vivid and dramatic detail these new insights. They lead to solutions radically different from the ones we have been offered up until now. Just as Chasing the Scream transformed the global debate about addiction, with over twenty million views for his TED talk and the animation based on it, Lost Connections will lead us to a very different debate about depression and anxiety—one that shows how, together, we can end this epidemic.

30 review for Lost Connections: Uncovering the Real Causes of Depression - and the Unexpected Solutions

  1. 4 out of 5

    Emmy Gregory

    Hoo boy! Where to start? Well Hari starts by saying that everything I know about depression is wrong, which is a bold claim given that I've lived with it, waxing and waning, for most of my life. So what does he say? Hari: Everyone thinks that depression is simply caused by a chemical imbalance in the brain! Me: Well, of course depression is caused by chemicals in the brain. Every part of our experience is caused by chemicals in the brain. That's what the brain DOES. Love, rage and that annoying ti Hoo boy! Where to start? Well Hari starts by saying that everything I know about depression is wrong, which is a bold claim given that I've lived with it, waxing and waning, for most of my life. So what does he say? Hari: Everyone thinks that depression is simply caused by a chemical imbalance in the brain! Me: Well, of course depression is caused by chemicals in the brain. Every part of our experience is caused by chemicals in the brain. That's what the brain DOES. Love, rage and that annoying tickle behind your right knee are also caused by chemicals in the brain. Hari: They think that life experiences and the environment are irrelevant and have no impact on people developing depression! They think it pops up out of nowhere! Me: Literally nobody thinks that, Johann. Hari: I've found out that people get sad because they've lost their jobs or have no friends. Me: No shit. Hari: A woman could have her newborn baby die, and then go to the GP the next day and be diagnosed with major depressive disorder! Me: Ooooh, a situation that has never happened, ever, because doctors are not fucking idiots! How exciting! Hari: Antidepressants don't really work even though Big Pharma insists that they do in order to make money. We should take St John's Wort because it's better, has no risks and no side effects. Me: The evidence on antidepressants is complicated, and Big Pharma have indeed done some shady stuff which I won't defend. St John's Wort works because it is basically an SSRI. However, unlike substances classified as drugs, it's very badly regulated so dosage and purity are inconsistent. There are side effects. One is that it reduces the effectiveness of hormonal contraceptives, which seems like a pretty big risk to me. Hari: In all the time I took antidepressants, not one medical professional asked if I had a reason to be sad. Me: I flat out don't believe you, I'm afraid. If you were ever referred to mental health services, you sure as hell went through a history of your whole life in the hour-long initial appointment. Even GPs generally ask. Hari: Everyone in medicine just thinks that antidepressants will fix everything without any context! Me: Really? Because I'm pretty sure that NHS best practice advice on depression includes antidepressants, talking therapy, mindfulness, diet and exercise, and sleep hygiene. They've also become pretty keen on choral singing recently. Of course they don't always have the resources to offer this stuff and GPs have to get you out the door pretty quickly. But that's not because they all think pills are perfect. Hari: Nobody ever asks about real life stressors! Me: The last time I was referred to an NHS mental health service I was asked over and over if I had any issues with debt, housing, the police, my non-existent children, isolation, harassment etc. Social workers are a lot cheaper than psychiatrists. Hari: But the REAL cause of depression is real life stress, not brain chemicals. Me: This is a ridiculous false dichotomy. It's like saying "the cause of type 2 diabetes isn't having a body that can no longer get the insulin/glucose balance right. The cause is people eating too much and getting fat." There are levels of cause and effect, and interactions between these levels. Life experience affects brain activity. Brain activity then both creates and affects life experience. The problem with depression is often a feedback loop between life and the brain. The reason why antidepressants are needed is to get into this loop and push the brain in a different direction so that life can also be pushed into a different direction. Hari: Everyone now thinks that depression is caused by too little serotonin. Me: I don't know what "everyone" thinks, but the current medical consensus is that serotonin is one of several neurotransmitters implicated in a very complex disorder that we still don't fully understand. Because, you know, the brain is complex, similar symptoms can have different causes and different appropriate treatments, and so on. I mean there's more I could say but this is pretty long now. I think this book might come across as groundbreaking for people who don't know all that much about depression and the state of science around it. This is clearly what Hari was going for. But what it has actually done is build up a ridiculous straw man. Nobody thinks that depression always springs up, spontaneously, because the brain forgot to put serotonin on the shopping list. What the medical profession actually thinks is that it's a very complex disorder, with a lot of interconnected causes and a bunch of different things that can help. Of these things, there's often an antidepressant which will give the person a bit of a boost in conjunction with sorting out other stuff. But Hari doesn't engage with this. Instead he presents another wildly oversimplistic explanation and then claims credit for Figuring It All Out Unlike Those Actual Scientists And Doctors.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Mallory

    I received a copy of this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. First, I would like to note that, as a psychiatric nurse, I like to consider myself a mental health professional who knows a little something about things like depression and anxiety. Second, I’m also certified in choice theory/reality therapy, which meshes pretty well with a lot of ideas in this book. Third, as someone who copes with (self-diagnosed) anxiety and depression, I’d like to think I know a few th I received a copy of this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. First, I would like to note that, as a psychiatric nurse, I like to consider myself a mental health professional who knows a little something about things like depression and anxiety. Second, I’m also certified in choice theory/reality therapy, which meshes pretty well with a lot of ideas in this book. Third, as someone who copes with (self-diagnosed) anxiety and depression, I’d like to think I know a few things. So there’s what I feel qualifies me to make the statement I’m about to make: “Duh.” That’s what I kept saying over and over throughout this book. As the author went through his reasons for depression, I was dumbfounded that these aren’t all accepted by the medical and psychiatric community without question. Then he gets into the scientific studies and actual research, and you may actually start to feel angry (like I did) that they aren’t. Then, if you’re as entrenched in this system as I am, you’ll know why. The picture of a patient laying on a couch, telling the psychiatrist all of their problems is an antiquated picture of the mental health system. Somehow, over the years, the psychiatrist’s couch has moved from a place to discuss the problems in your life and hypothesize how they came to be, to a place where you list off symptoms and are given a drug that’s supposed to fix everything. This book is important to the field of psychiatry, I only wonder how long it will take for the mainstream psychiatrists and mental health professionals to realize it. In conclusion, if you didn’t feel like reading this rambling review: read this book, it’s important. Even if you don’t think you’re depressed, read it. You know someone who is and maybe this book can help you to help them, even if you find nothing personally useful in it (though I’d be surprised if you didn’t).

  3. 5 out of 5

    Sam (Rescue Dog Mom, Writer, Hugger)

    I thank the author for writing this book and the person who gifted me a copy. Finally, the truth!! Every psychiatrist who believes that serotonin chemical imbalance in the brain is the reason for depression and anxiety should read this book! Anyone taking prescribed anti-depressants and not finding relief from their symptoms needs to read this book. Like the author, I was diagnosed with depression and anxiety at a young age and prescribed medication. For years I tried many different drugs includi I thank the author for writing this book and the person who gifted me a copy. Finally, the truth!! Every psychiatrist who believes that serotonin chemical imbalance in the brain is the reason for depression and anxiety should read this book! Anyone taking prescribed anti-depressants and not finding relief from their symptoms needs to read this book. Like the author, I was diagnosed with depression and anxiety at a young age and prescribed medication. For years I tried many different drugs including SSRI's, SNRI's, and even NDRI's. From some, I would experience relief for a brief period of time, but it would always wear off and my doctor would increase the dosage, then eventually switch me to a different drug. Some actually worsened my depression and anxiety and even caused difficult health issues that the drug companies like to call "side effects." I agree with the author on the actual reasons for depression and anxiety. It makes complete sense that having more negative and painful experiences than positive and happy occasions in your life will cause you to be depressed, anxious, and even suicidal. I've seen it happen with family and friends and have experienced it myself. It's not something to be simply dismissed as just a bad day. It's much more than that. It's numerous and severe negative incidents in life that can cause one to retreat and withdraw from society as a mode of self-protection. The cumulative effect can become debilitating for many people and also lead to self-deprecating behavior. Crying so hard and feeling actual physical pain and believing the world would be better off without you is a serious crisis that requires immediate attention. At that point it's extremely difficult, if not impossible, to have the courage to seek social interaction in hopes of obtaining positive and happy social experiences. If I knew then what I know now, I would not have taken any of these medications and I believe I'd be healthier both mentally and physically. I also wouldn't have wasted so much money, as some of these medications were not covered by insurance and are quite expensive. If you are suffering depression and anxiety and are taking prescribed anti-depressants that are not working for you, I encourage you to read this book with an open mind. If you know of someone who is suffering, I urge you to recommend this book to them. If you don't suffer anxiety or depression, I kindly ask you to try to understand what it's like for those of us that do. This book was thoroughly researched, is very well-written and easy to read. I sincerely thank you for reading my open and honest review.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Emily

    This was a frustrating and infuriating book. I kept wanting to shout “but what about us who HAVE the connections you talk about, have everything going for us, and yet have lifelong depression?” Being told to join a gardening group and make friends is NOT HELPFUL when you have friends and already garden. Being told you need a job you feel is worthwhile, and a living wage, is not the answer when you already have both. It comes off as extraordinarily patronizing to be told “I know you don’t want to This was a frustrating and infuriating book. I kept wanting to shout “but what about us who HAVE the connections you talk about, have everything going for us, and yet have lifelong depression?” Being told to join a gardening group and make friends is NOT HELPFUL when you have friends and already garden. Being told you need a job you feel is worthwhile, and a living wage, is not the answer when you already have both. It comes off as extraordinarily patronizing to be told “I know you don’t want to hear this, because it’s easier to take a 20 second pill each morning; I didn’t want to either, but here’s the truth.” It may well be accurate to say that SSRIs are not especially effective on average. It may be true that we don’t have good medical answers for or understanding of depression. But if that’s the case, SAY SO and call for further research. Don’t end by explaining how we all need a universal income so we don’t feel stressed. Ugh. Maddening.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Aisha Smith

    This book purports to be groundbreaking but is actually an example of sloppy and unscientific reasoning. The author quotes studies published in the 1990's to critique "modern thinking" about clinical depression and anxiety. However, modern thinking on clinical depression and anxiety has advanced by leaps and bounds just in the time I've been typing this review. At a minimum, a book about science should refer to science published in the New Millennium. A further example of the author's messiness This book purports to be groundbreaking but is actually an example of sloppy and unscientific reasoning. The author quotes studies published in the 1990's to critique "modern thinking" about clinical depression and anxiety. However, modern thinking on clinical depression and anxiety has advanced by leaps and bounds just in the time I've been typing this review. At a minimum, a book about science should refer to science published in the New Millennium. A further example of the author's messiness is his failure to define his terms. How does the author define "depression?" Would he argue that postpartum depression, seasonal affective disorder and grief all have the same root in loneliness and societal alienation? That would be ridiculous. To get around this, the author just lumps everything and everyone together. Pretty irresponsible treatment of such an important subject.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Arani Satgunaseelan

    Just not for me. I found that this book unnecessarily portrayed psychiatrists and anti-depressants negatively. I was presented with plenty of studies related to other causes but the idea of anti-depressant studies was quickly dismissed as being biased because of ‘Big Pharma’ funding - which I think is an insult to the men and women scientists working for companies conducting this research. For me, the causes and ‘reconnections’ highlighted are all part of ‘psychiatric treatment’ in conjunction wi Just not for me. I found that this book unnecessarily portrayed psychiatrists and anti-depressants negatively. I was presented with plenty of studies related to other causes but the idea of anti-depressant studies was quickly dismissed as being biased because of ‘Big Pharma’ funding - which I think is an insult to the men and women scientists working for companies conducting this research. For me, the causes and ‘reconnections’ highlighted are all part of ‘psychiatric treatment’ in conjunction with anti-depressants. At the end of the day if you go to your GP saying you can’t stop crying, they’ll prescribe meds, but also set up counselling, encourage regular exercise and removing yourself from any negative life situation. It’s a comprehensive model. Whilst I completely agree with all the disconnections that the author described in leading to mental health issues, I just think going out there and saying anti-depressants are a conspiracy is dangerous and unnecessary. For many people, getting a prescription is the first step to seeking the support they need.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Lisa (not getting friends updates) Vegan

    The book’s description field at Goodreads (https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/3...) gives a more than adequate summary of its contents so I won’t make a point here of giving any further details here. As usual, it’s hardest for me to write reviews for books I love the most. This might be the best book I’ve ever read about depression and anxiety, and I’ve read dozens, maybe hundreds, over many decades. It’s a book that I wish I could own. I might borrow it from the library again at some point. I c The book’s description field at Goodreads (https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/3...) gives a more than adequate summary of its contents so I won’t make a point here of giving any further details here. As usual, it’s hardest for me to write reviews for books I love the most. This might be the best book I’ve ever read about depression and anxiety, and I’ve read dozens, maybe hundreds, over many decades. It’s a book that I wish I could own. I might borrow it from the library again at some point. I can recommend this to everyone (including several specific people I know) particularly those who have experienced depression/anxiety, those who work with sufferers to alleviate those conditions, and those who know or have known people with depression and/or anxiety, and most people living in our modern world; in other words, most readers. The book’s subtitle refers to depression but throughout the book both depression and anxiety are explored, and I appreciated that. I should probably feel perturbed that none of the buzz on the book jacket is from professionals in the field, but I ended up not caring. This is not a pop psych book, and I hope that mental health professionals will read it. I wish this information had been published and publicized many decades ago, and accepted by those in the field. To me it’s ridiculous that this information could be considered groundbreaking but some of it feels that way given the accepted current treatment modalities for depression and for anxiety. The book is entertaining and informative, and well structured and well written. Most of what is related is or should be common sense but I found much of what was presented thought provoking. Perhaps there was nothing earth-shatteringly new but it felt good getting validation and more to consider, and I did learn some things. The author is an engaging writer and storyteller. The account has a good mix of his personal story, others’ stories, and (scientific and informal) research results. He interviews people from around the world, people working in various disciplines, and about various organized and spontaneous social experiments that have occurred. The personal stories make the hard data even more interesting. When I read the Contents pages before I started the book I thought I’d have an issue with the specific numbers of reasons for and solutions for these mental health issues, but I didn’t. The author is not dogmatic and the sections were useful and made sense. I’ve never been a person especially attracted to drug use, but after reading this book I’d love to try the ingredients in mushrooms, at the high dose, under strict medical supervision, even though I suspect I might be among the 25% of users who have negative experiences when under the influence of psilocybin. I’m really curious though and I’d be willing to take the risk because I think there would be an opportunity for a special, positive experience. I do wish that the sections on traumatic childhoods were much longer and had more details and examples. What is said about disconnection in modern life really resonated with me, and the conclusions the author reaches about its impact on how we feel are ones with which I mostly agree. Finishing the book I feel that it can be helpful to many, and somewhat empowering, but as is made clear, many of the needed changes must happen not just by individuals but also at the societal, cultural, group, organizational-governmental level, and accomplishing this in the big way that will be required for large populations feels like a daunting goal. So I’m not sure how optimistic or pessimistic I feel regarding this epidemic, but ideas are given that individuals and small groups can implement. The notes are worth reading, preferably at the same time as their corresponding chapters. There is an index, though when I went to look up things I didn’t always find the book’s contents there where I’d expected to find it. One quote I really liked that is a good summary of the book’s thesis is: “You aren’t a machine with broken parts. You are an animal whose needs aren’t being met.”

  8. 5 out of 5

    Zora

    At his best, Hari writes with real compassion and insight, advancing an important argument that we need to expand our understanding of both depression and of anti depressants. Popping pills to solve a chemical imbalance is not the answer, but rather identifying what it is that you/ we are disconnected from - including with the help of mental health professionals, but not exclusively. He consults experts, showcases innovative approaches and research and thinks about things ‘for a long time’ as he At his best, Hari writes with real compassion and insight, advancing an important argument that we need to expand our understanding of both depression and of anti depressants. Popping pills to solve a chemical imbalance is not the answer, but rather identifying what it is that you/ we are disconnected from - including with the help of mental health professionals, but not exclusively. He consults experts, showcases innovative approaches and research and thinks about things ‘for a long time’ as he says more than once. It’s hard to disagree with large chunks of this - much of it sensible and attentive to the complexities of human existence - and he covers a lot of ground while maintaining the pace of a page turner. He thinks big too, indicting contemporary neoliberalism in the depression epidemic. But sometimes the tone was too proselytising & verged on condescending while the space allocated to particular issues over others was sometimes curious (pages and pages to a single LSD experiment while childhood trauma is smashed out in one of the smallest chapters). Towards the end, huge topics like the universal basic income were introduced with great fanfare only to capsize on another walk on part for a celebrity friend of his. And while he made attempts to give biology its due, once it was established that the chemical imbalance theory is basically bunk, other biological factors - most notably hormones which is a huge issue for many women suffering various forms of depression - barely got a look in. Still, I am glad he wrote it and that I read it. We do need to listen to our own pain, and to the pain of others, and to expand the possibilities of how we deal with it. In that broader sense, this is a hopeful and helpful book.

  9. 4 out of 5

    بثينة العيسى

    It’s not seretonin; it’s society.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Heather

    "We need to move from 'focusing on chemical imbalances to focusing on power imbalances.'" You are not suffering from a chemical imbalance in your brain. You are suffering from a social and spiritual imbalance in how we live. Much more than you've been told up to now, it's not serotonin; it's society. It's not your brain; it's your pain. Your biology can make your distress worse, for sure. But it's not the cause. It's not the driver. It's not the place to look for the main explanation, or the main "We need to move from 'focusing on chemical imbalances to focusing on power imbalances.'" You are not suffering from a chemical imbalance in your brain. You are suffering from a social and spiritual imbalance in how we live. Much more than you've been told up to now, it's not serotonin; it's society. It's not your brain; it's your pain. Your biology can make your distress worse, for sure. But it's not the cause. It's not the driver. It's not the place to look for the main explanation, or the main solution. Because you have been given the wrong explanation for why your depression and anxiety are happening, you are seeking the wrong solution. Because you are being told depression and anxiety are misfirings of brain chemicals, you will stop looking for answers in your life and your psyche and your environment and how you might change them. You will become sealed off in a serotonin story. You will try to get rid of the depressed feelings in your head. But that won't work unless you get rid of the causes of the depressed feelings in your life." "You aren't a machine with broken parts. You are an animal whose needs are not being met. You need to have a community. You need to have meaningful values, not the junk values you've been pumped full of all your life, telling you happiness comes through money and buying objects. You need to have meaningful work. You need the natural world. You need to feel you are respected. You need a secure future. You need connections to all these things. You need to release any shame you might feel for having been mistreated." ”All these depressed and anxious people, all over the world - they are giving us a message. They are telling us something has gone wrong with the way we live. We need to stop trying to muffle or silence or pathologize that pain. Instead, we need to listen to it, and honor it. It is only when we listen to our pain that we can follow it back to its source - and only there, when we can see its true causes, can we begin to overcome it." I included these quotes because I simply don't possess the ability - or quite frankly the desire - to express this better than Hari did in the conclusion of this book. I read Chasing the Scream: The First and Last Days of the War on Drugs and was mind-blown by it. It challenged everything I thought I believed about drug addiction, and made an extremely compelling argument, with solid proof. This book did exactly the same thing - it challenged what I thought I knew about depression and anxiety and detailed the ways he believes we, as a society, can and must change that, and it makes SO MUCH SENSE. I will most certainly, without a doubt, read anything Johann Hari writes. Anything. Not only is his research extremely extensive, he presents his findings - and opinions - in a way that is so easy to understand. So easy that I often found myself wondering how I didn't realize it myself, how it isn't common knowledge. PLEASE , read this. It will really challenge you, and it will most certainly help you, and the world around you. We, as a society, are handling depression and anxiety all wrong.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Lisa

    3.5 I'd recommend just listening to Hari's episode on the Joe Rogan Experience podcast, episode #1077, because you'll hear the most important points of his book and Joe Rogan is a pretty good person to hear responding to it. I thought the book was unnecessarily lengthy, I guess he wanted to show off his journalistic skills because he had a few deep experiences talking to people about this. He divided his book into two parts: what causes depression and then how we can solve it. I found the first p 3.5 I'd recommend just listening to Hari's episode on the Joe Rogan Experience podcast, episode #1077, because you'll hear the most important points of his book and Joe Rogan is a pretty good person to hear responding to it. I thought the book was unnecessarily lengthy, I guess he wanted to show off his journalistic skills because he had a few deep experiences talking to people about this. He divided his book into two parts: what causes depression and then how we can solve it. I found the first part immeasurably more valuable than the second, which mostly called for social transformation. And fair enough, but it depressed me a little (haha) because well yeah the world is messed up but what can I do about it right now in my own life? Nonetheless I guess it needed to be said, despite there not being a clear path to utopia yet. The nine causes he came up with included disconnection from: meaningful work, other people, meaningful values (basically don't be materialistic), childhood trauma, status and respect (something about the social hierarchy and being bullied), the natural world and a hopeful or secure future. Finally he discusses the role genes and your brain (neuroplasticity). All of this made sense to me but I sensed an excessive amount of bashing of antidepressants (in one study he reports that getting better sleep is on average 3 times more effective than taking antidepressants). I get this, especially considering that he lives in America and had a profoundly terrible experience himself - but I think it's simplistic to say that antidepressants are always bad. (I don't think he means to say that, but hey, that's the vibe you get). Some gems I really appreciated hearing: (and I'm paraphrasing) - You need your pain, it has something to tell you about what's wrong in your life. - Grieving has the same symptoms of depression, but we see grieving as rational in its context - what if depression is a form of grief for how our own lives aren't going as they should? - Having no friends or supportive partner when a negative life event occurs increases your chances to get depressed by 75% - Sometimes addiction, like to food in the case of obesity, is a solution to a problem most people just can't see?I.e. What if addiction isn't the fire, but the smoke. (in the chapter about childhood trauma) - Being in nature helps with depression because realising you're "just protein" gives "release form self-enclosure in your own ego". Go hiking! - On neuroplasticity: a brain scan is a snapshot of a moving picture. Your brain changes to meet your needs and is always related to your life and personal circumstances. "You can't figure out the plot of Breaking Bad by dismantling your TV set" - Statistically it's been found that thinking depression is a disease vs a lifestyle defect is more likely to make you stigmatise the depressed person. This is because when you know that could just as well be you in a few years makes you more empathetic. - Consciously trying to make yourself happy only works if you see being happy as being more connected to others, I.e. Helping other people - Everything he said about sympathetic joy and loving-kindness meditation! Okay I'm tired of writing

  12. 4 out of 5

    Leo Robertson

    I was gonna set this to 4* but Mr Hari does leave me feeling ever so empowered :) And seems to provide me with new reasons to criticise Russell Brand! Which I love doing anyway ;) Because unfortunately for Mr Hari I'd argue, he seems trapped into calling for revolutions. "Hey!" his publishers say. "Do that calling-for-revolution thing you do. Really gets books flying off shelves!" The last book I read of Hari's, Chasing the Scream, I did so when a bit younger and looking for "THE answer", so his re I was gonna set this to 4* but Mr Hari does leave me feeling ever so empowered :) And seems to provide me with new reasons to criticise Russell Brand! Which I love doing anyway ;) Because unfortunately for Mr Hari I'd argue, he seems trapped into calling for revolutions. "Hey!" his publishers say. "Do that calling-for-revolution thing you do. Really gets books flying off shelves!" The last book I read of Hari's, Chasing the Scream, I did so when a bit younger and looking for "THE answer", so his revolution-calling got in. This time, I'm reading this book in conjunction with Jordan Peterson's 12 Rules For Life (which isn't on my GR shelves because I like to have unique experiences with books. When I add percentage read, or "currently reading", and someone likes it, it's like when you're in a shop and the salesperson goes, "Great choice! Pairs well with our new range of patterned cotton t-shirts." I know that's not how it is. GR people have no marketing-style incentive to encourage me with my reading, but of things that should be private, experiences with books are way up there. Someone just showed me a Facebook video of an alcoholic woman screaming because the government were taking away her child. I'm sure it was offered with the incentive of inducing some sort of change, but no matter the motivation, some things just need to remain private, even if they don't "technically have to" anymore. Now that we can record everything, doesn't mean we should. Look at that whole Logan Paul thing, or that prankster vlogging couple that broke up and feel like they "sold their relationship to YouTube." Privacy is a human need like water and food. So that's that!) One of Peterson's points is that dominance hierarchies are ingrained in us, not in our culture. They can't be dismantled. I'm sure Hari would agree, but he doesn't make that explicit. He just makes the point that hierarchies in certain countries are ramped up to the extreme in a way that is massively detrimental, and advocates flattening those hierarchies as they do in Norway (omg if one more person who doesn't live here tells me how great it is...!!) Well, read that in conjunction with this School of Life article: http://www.thebookoflife.org/countrie... Because I can't be bothered yet again to explain why no one country, and perhaps especially not Norway, has all the answers. And the knowledge of this book is not as hidden as he makes it sound. Go into nature, for example: well, there's the whole Japanese "forest bathing" practice etc... I mean I guess I've never seen these solutions collected in this way before, and that's enough. Just something about the "woooww" tone of it was, like... Yeah, certain technological advancements and new modes of living have us lonelier than ever. I don't think that's news to anyone. The pernicious effect of advertising: yes. We're all talking about this stuff. You're not ripping our blinkers off. But thanks for providing some new thoughts on the urgency of stemming those influences. As for advocating for laws that prevent advertising that makes people feel bad?! Are you nuts? That sounds like Brave New World territory to me. Though I appreciate the sincerity of its intent, sure. But, fine: I kinda think the point of all this reading we do is to develop our own personal philosophy. I had a discussion with a friend about it yesterday. He was of the opinion (or was playing Devil's Advocate just to rile me, as is sometimes his wont :P) that everything has been done before. I said it depends on the level at which you look at something. No one like him has ever existed, and what he claimed was the equivalent of saying, we're all molecules, or we're all just fleshbags or something. That, as we even know scientifically, is looking at the problem at the wrong order of magnitude. (I often do the hard graft of beefing up other people's weak arguments for them, just so that when they know I blast those arguments to shreds that I had reason to do so. I have to provide points A and B and C and D so that I don't just refute point A, then they come back in a week and go, "Aha! I've been thinking about it! Have you considered: point B?! Gotcha!!" Ugh. People!! I know we need them, but maybe we allow ourselves to be depressed because the monumental task of locating a network of decent friends is even more depressing!) What makes us unique is DNA, and each of us have genomes that have never existed before—no matter how much of that code we share with others. Each of us is a discrete object, with a unique collection of experiences, experiencing life differently. He either didn't like or understand that, so, exasperatedly, I said, "Cavemen didn't have iPads!" That shut him up for a few seconds but he still had this look on his face. Again, while being arrogant, he couldn't express to me exactly why he thought he'd bested me, so I helped him out again. I think what it transpired that he was getting at was that, we're not the beginning or ending of anything ourselves. Okay sure. We're participating in life, which is bigger than ourselves. We're part of a fabric. Nice! Two of my favourite aphorisms are, "Better than nothing" and "Take what works for you and let the rest go." This is how I get out of bed and go about my business and develop. Okay, so I'm not the most well-read, best engineer, greatest husband etc. Does that absolve me of responsibilities in any of those regards? No. Because worse than me doing anything to better myself would be to do nothing. Any attempt at improvement is better than nothing. That's really all I ask of myself. And then, okay, the point of my reading is almost never to agree with the writer. If I do, it's an easier task; if I don't, I have to work out why I don't. I take what works for me and let the rest go. I look at what my parents did and how they went about life. I mimic those parts of them that I appreciated and look for areas of improvement—which there always are. They're only human. And so am I. Now, maybe almost none of this had anything to do with this book in particular, and that's on me. I always end up spilling when I relinquish journalling. Whatever. Let's end on this note: HEY! YOU! YOU DESERVE TO BE HERE, motherfucker. You are worthy of love, and fun, and silliness, and the beautiful mistakes you'll keep making. Go you!

  13. 4 out of 5

    Xe_maria

    I have mixed feelings about this book. On the one hand, it raises really important topics and there is a lot of very interesting data in there. There were bits of this book that I found helpful and insightful. On the other hand, there is a lot of oversimplification in this book. I have been particularly annoyed with the oversimplifications around biology/psychopharmacology and almost dropped the book after the first few chapters and then I reminded myself that this is the area that I know a lot I have mixed feelings about this book. On the one hand, it raises really important topics and there is a lot of very interesting data in there. There were bits of this book that I found helpful and insightful. On the other hand, there is a lot of oversimplification in this book. I have been particularly annoyed with the oversimplifications around biology/psychopharmacology and almost dropped the book after the first few chapters and then I reminded myself that this is the area that I know a lot about, so I need to exercise some discretion. But on childhood trauma I also felt that there is a massive topic of how your experience as a child teaches you to interact with reality in certain ways that is completely omitted. And I am fairly sure that on sociology and economics there is also a lot of simplification but I just don’t know enough about these disciplines to pick up on that. I also think that the book that mostly talks about the cultural, social and economic interactions is completely oblivious to how the modern world expects people to be constantly happy. This is another big topic that is worth exploring.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Petra

    "You aren’t a machine with broken parts. You are an animal whose needs are not being met. You need to have a community. You need to have meaningful values, not the junk values you’ve been pumped full of all your life, telling you happiness comes through money and buying objects. You need to have meaningful work. You need the natural world. You need to feel you are respected. You need a secure future. You need connections to all these things. You need to release any shame you might feel for havin "You aren’t a machine with broken parts. You are an animal whose needs are not being met. You need to have a community. You need to have meaningful values, not the junk values you’ve been pumped full of all your life, telling you happiness comes through money and buying objects. You need to have meaningful work. You need the natural world. You need to feel you are respected. You need a secure future. You need connections to all these things. You need to release any shame you might feel for having been mistreated."

  15. 4 out of 5

    Ayse_

    This is such a beautiful book that lays out the real reasons behind depression, the lies of pharmaceutical industry, the indecency of the so called scientist; and also shows us, providing real-life evidence on why people get depressed and how to deal with it. In our day, the amount of scientific data that is published but cannot be replicated, has reached to the level of 80-85%. And the real ratio can be even worse than this. We see these kind of lies and schemes in all areas of medicine from ca This is such a beautiful book that lays out the real reasons behind depression, the lies of pharmaceutical industry, the indecency of the so called scientist; and also shows us, providing real-life evidence on why people get depressed and how to deal with it. In our day, the amount of scientific data that is published but cannot be replicated, has reached to the level of 80-85%. And the real ratio can be even worse than this. We see these kind of lies and schemes in all areas of medicine from cardiovascular to women`s health. The other issue is the systems that treat people like cogs in the mill. Unless the people find a way to unite for what is good and true and fight for their rights as we see in the examples of Kotti and the Mitchells, this misuse and abuse of power will continue to augment and accelerate; and we will continue this sleepwalking supported by the media, tabloids and companies. Written from a journalist/reporter`s point of view and life-long experience with depression, this book is a must read for psychiatrists, social workers, psychologists, leaders and anyone who has the courage to see what the misinformation clouds are hiding in this business. It is also a very uplifting and humanitarian book, highlighting the fact that we are very similar in basics, and indeed semi-divine when we can unite and focus on real values.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Holly Loucks

    Hari’s attempt to brainwash people into thinking socialism is the cure for depression, completely taints the rest of what-would-be legitimate arguments. I wanted to give Lost Connections one star because of how infuriating it is that Hari politisizes depression. BUT, when I reflected at the end of this book - it did connect some dots in my own struggles. I did like the point that Hari conclusively makes that “pain is our ally.” We NEED the painful emotions as symptoms & signal to show us that so Hari’s attempt to brainwash people into thinking socialism is the cure for depression, completely taints the rest of what-would-be legitimate arguments. I wanted to give Lost Connections one star because of how infuriating it is that Hari politisizes depression. BUT, when I reflected at the end of this book - it did connect some dots in my own struggles. I did like the point that Hari conclusively makes that “pain is our ally.” We NEED the painful emotions as symptoms & signal to show us that something is wrong. It’s a warning. As well as the idea that minimizing grief to a short timeline minimizes the love we had for a loved one now gone. Who would I recommend this book to? Employers. There’s a wealth of information & research that an employer could apply to work environment.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Cindy Rollins

    At times I almost liked this book. There are a couple good takeaways about materialism and our egos in an ago if social media, but the pseudoscience undoes most of that. The author seems to think “I thought about it a lot” is some sort of scientific evidence. Finally, he reveals a political agenda which is based on these “thoughts.” This is the future. Emotionalism parading as science.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Ashley Peterson

    As a mental health professional and person living with major depressive disorder, I was fairly certain going in that I wasn’t going to agree with this book, which argues against any sort of biological causation for depression. What I wasn’t prepared for was the amount of absurdity and apparently deliberate misunderstanding/misinterpretation that I found. From my perspective, the absurdity began when the author wrote the he had an “epiphany” at age 18: “I’m not happy, I’m not weak - I’m depressed! As a mental health professional and person living with major depressive disorder, I was fairly certain going in that I wasn’t going to agree with this book, which argues against any sort of biological causation for depression. What I wasn’t prepared for was the amount of absurdity and apparently deliberate misunderstanding/misinterpretation that I found. From my perspective, the absurdity began when the author wrote the he had an “epiphany” at age 18: “I’m not happy, I’m not weak - I’m depressed! … There is a term for feeling like this! It is a medical condition, like diabetes or irritable bowel syndrome! I had been hearing this, as a message bouncing through the culture, for years, of course, but now it suddenly clicked into place. They meant me! And there is, I suddenly recalled at that moment, a solution to depression: antidepressants. So that’s what I need! … I knew about the cure [Prozac], because it had been announced by the global media just a few years before.” Years later his therapist observed that he seemed depressed, and he insisted that couldn’t possibly be the case, because his antidepressant was boosting his serotonin levels. This does not in any way sound like anyone I’ve ever encountered who suffers from a serious mental illness, and cast serious doubts on the author’s judgment. Hari cites a number of researchers that are proponents of the stance that he takes, but his interpretation of their findings demonstrates a fundamental lack of understanding of the principles of scientific research. He held up as a credential for one scientist the fact that he’d been deemed one of the most influential scientists alive by a social commentary-oriented magazine, as if this somehow backed up the validity of this scientist’s arguments. He also makes misleading statements about how the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM) deals with bereavement. He holds up the disproven hypothesis that depression is due to a lack of the neurotransmitter serotonin as evidence that depression is not biologically caused. This hypothesis was originally developed to try to explain why medications that inhibited the reuptake of serotonin were helpful for people with depression, and at the time there weren’t the scientific techniques available to verify whether this was accurate. It has since been found that depression is not correlated with a deficiency in the absolute amount of serotonin, but it is utterly illogical to say that because scientists came up with an inaccurate explanation decades ago we should throw the baby out with the bathwater and say biology and neurotransmitters are simply not involved. The author comes up with a list of 9 causes for depression, although he has no formal training in psychiatry or psychology. These causes involve various social/environmental factors, entirely overlooking that many people who develop mental illness (including myself) may experience none of these. The author isn’t arguing that some people’s depression is related to situational stressors (which is absolutely true) or that broader societal existential malaise is attributable to social/environmental factors (which is quite possibly true); he is saying that all depressive illnesses fit into his narrow box, which is incredibly insulting to those of us living with serious mental illness. So what can I conclude personally from this book?  Apparently to get better from my severe illness that has caused multiple hospitalizations and suicide attempts, I'm supposed to engage in local activism, participate in a community garden, start a co-op, hang out in nature, and get laid. Forget meds, according to the author sex is the best antidepressant.  The author writes about depression involving various disconnects, but by the end of the book I could only conclude that the author was well and firmly disconnected from the reality of mental illness. This review first appeared on https://mentalhealthathome.org/2018/0...

  19. 5 out of 5

    Michelle

    Lost Connections: Uncovering the Real Causes of Depression and the Unexpected Solutions is by renowned UK author journalist Johann Hari. Through extensive research and interviews with a host of experts, educators and other medical professionals; the connection between depression and anxiety is established with its huge impact on all aspects of humanity. In addition, Hari shared his own stories of near death illness after food poisoning in Vietnam, and diagnosis with depression and acute anxiety Lost Connections: Uncovering the Real Causes of Depression and the Unexpected Solutions is by renowned UK author journalist Johann Hari. Through extensive research and interviews with a host of experts, educators and other medical professionals; the connection between depression and anxiety is established with its huge impact on all aspects of humanity. In addition, Hari shared his own stories of near death illness after food poisoning in Vietnam, and diagnosis with depression and acute anxiety and his prescribed treatment with psychiatric medication. The UK has the highest antidepressant use in Europe, 1 in 10 male American high school students are prescribed powerful stimulants for focus and attention deficits, 1 in 5 Americans are taking medication for psychiatric conditions. Addiction to illicit opioid substance has reached epidemic levels in the USA; with the life expectancy of white males decreasing for the first time in peacetime history. With the use of psychiatric medication skyrocketing, it is easy to trace the history of usage. For decades nearly all of the research, development of psychotropic medications are funded, advertised, marketed, and heavily promoted for public consumption by powerful corporate interests in the pharmaceutical industry. Hari found that studies submitted for FDA approval always presented these drugs in the most favorable conditions even if the clinical trial evidence showed no difference between the use of antidepressants vs. placebo’s. The side effects, he noted are very real: weight gain, profuse sweating, and sexual dysfunction. In the worst cases, there may be an increased risk of suicide. The 1960’s pop singer Dale Shannon reportedly committed suicide after taking Prozac. Despite the pharmaceutical industry payouts of exorbitant sums of money from lawsuit claims, the profit margins are increasingly higher than ever. There are several instances noted of the placebo effect: The “Perkins” Wand of Dr. John Haygarth at Bath General Hospital (1799) was highly effective when moved (without touching) over a patient with debilitating pain, treatments were repeated as needed with much success. During WWII when morphine ran out on the battlefield, soldiers were told that the IV saline solution was morphine-- it worked! When Hari began taking Seroxat (Paxill)-- he believed in the “chemical imbalance of the brain” theory. Many doctors believed that depression was caused by reduced levels of serotonin in the brain. Since no one actually knows what a chemically balanced brain looks like, this claim or explanation is a “myth” with no scientific proof according to professor Jo Anna Moncrief (University College London). Hari found his depression and sadness remained or returned after the dosages of his medication were increased, the same in 65%-85% of other patient data studies. Traveling over thousands of miles, Hari visited an Amish Village in Indiana to compare levels of anxiety and depression and the reasons the Amish remain separated from mainstream society. A housing project in Berlin, and a city in Brazil that banned public advertising were studied along with a clinic in Baltimore that researched the effects and experience of trauma. “Chasing The Scream” (2015) wasn’t as challenging for him to write as this book, since we have been “systematically misinformed” regarding depression and anxiety. Hari presents 9 proven causes related to disconnection with suggestions ways to reconnect that will heal and transform lives. **With thanks and appreciation to Bloomsbury Publishing USA UK via NetGalley for the DDC for the purpose of review.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Gary Moreau

    Like many who will consider reading this book I have suffered from bouts of severe clinical depression for a long time despite a life that has been, by any standard measure, filled with success, recognition, and good fortune. And I know, like most who suffer from depression do, that 1. the pain is very real, and 2. career recognition, material success, and a comfortable life have little to do with the ultimate quality of life. Three decades ago I was finally forced to seek help. And I mean forced Like many who will consider reading this book I have suffered from bouts of severe clinical depression for a long time despite a life that has been, by any standard measure, filled with success, recognition, and good fortune. And I know, like most who suffer from depression do, that 1. the pain is very real, and 2. career recognition, material success, and a comfortable life have little to do with the ultimate quality of life. Three decades ago I was finally forced to seek help. And I mean forced. I was that guy in the corner office of a large organization, I owned an impressive amount of stuff, traveled the world, and split my holidays between Aspen and the Caribbean. And I couldn’t get out of bed in the morning. There was no reason to. And if I hadn’t addressed it, I’d probably still be there. I, too, was treated with SSRIs and they worked remarkably well. And I could not have cared less if that was a function of the placebo effect or the drugs were addressing some chemical imbalance in my brain. I still don’t, to be honest. I do, however, care about continuous improvement in my overall health and well-being. View the beautiful valley before you from atop the mountain and you’ll seek a more magnificent mountain. I have little fear of falling back to where I was because I ultimately went through extensive psychotherapy with a brilliant and insightful doctor and he taught me how to fish, or climb, as it were. Johann Hari has provided a delightful refresher course, although that understates the contribution of this book. He has also reframed the discussion in a way that only a fellow traveler and gifted writer could. He has made both the problems and the solutions very accessible and in so doing has broadened both the audience and the quality of the dialogue. Which is why, I think, this is a book not for the depressed and anxious, but for all of humanity. Depression is often defined as a very specific manifestation of issues each and every one of us faces at some time in our lives. That doesn’t mean that different manifestations are any less painful or debilitating. Addiction is just one example. Are you drinking too much because you’re addicted or depressed? It doesn’t matter. That’s not to suggest that the source of all pain is universal. That, I think, would be naïve. We are quite literally defined by our experiences and once you’ve been around for a couple of decades or more you are experientially unique. Mark Twain once quipped, “History does not repeat itself but it often rhymes.” And so it is with mental and physical well-being. We’re more alike with each other and with the baboons of the savanna than we are different. I won’t give away the details of the book because you need to experience the context within which the author unveils the problems and their solutions. Let’s just say that the title is appropriate. It’s all about connections. I have given a great deal of thought, and now have the time to do so, as to how to re-establish the connections that have been lost in our current world. As Johann so clearly established, it is the loss at the heart of our growing collective angst and disillusionment. I have been particularly interested, in light of my executive career, with re-establishing purpose and connection in the workplace. When I began my career we never talked about work/life balance, not because we didn’t work hard or our lives outside of work weren’t important, but because our careers were an integral part of our life. We achieved connection, purpose, identity, and status there, no matter what job title you held. But that is all gone today and I have met few, even in the C-suites of corporate America, who honestly claim to get any real fulfillment from their work. And that is a function of lost connection. That loss, however, has resulted in an even bigger loss - the loss of trust that connection enables. There is no trust in the world most of us live and work in today. And by trust I don’t mean the trust to set a pile of money on the table and leave the room. I mean the trust to know that the people you work with have compassion, humility, and optimism; are competent in what they do; and have some sense of how they and we, as human beings and as a work unit, fit into the world. I read a lot of books. And this is one of the best I’ve read in a long time. Johann never says so, but he is a fellow Pyrrhonist, I suspect. That, by the way, is the ultimate compliment – it’s where trust comes from. You can’t trust a person who hasn’t challenged himself or herself. And he clearly has. This is a book you should read. Perhaps more importantly, this is a book your adolescent children should read. (I feel the same way about psychotherapy, actually. It should be mandatory when you turn sixteen.) Thank you, Johann Hari.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Rebecca

    Instead of a personal failing or a chemical imbalance, what if depression is actually a symptom of a sick society? That’s the central question Hari asks here. He pinpoints various ways in which we are fundamentally disconnected from other people and from ourselves: disconnection from meaningful work and values, from a traumatic past that still affects us, from status, from nature, and from hope for the future. He thinks society needs to address these basic human needs rather than just pointing h Instead of a personal failing or a chemical imbalance, what if depression is actually a symptom of a sick society? That’s the central question Hari asks here. He pinpoints various ways in which we are fundamentally disconnected from other people and from ourselves: disconnection from meaningful work and values, from a traumatic past that still affects us, from status, from nature, and from hope for the future. He thinks society needs to address these basic human needs rather than just pointing hurting people towards pharmaceuticals. I appreciated this quote applicable to smartphones: “If your picture of a perfect afterlife is being with the people you love all the time, [an Amish fella] asked me, why wouldn’t you choose today—while you’re still alive—to be truly present with the people you love? Why would you rather be lost in a haze of distractions?”

  22. 5 out of 5

    Higgs

    Never dealt with depression but wanted a better understanding of what its like and what works (or doesn't work) to aid it. I think Hari does a pretty good job discussing this and I felt his deeply personal depression story was a moving contribution. Hari criticises Big Pharma for perpetuating the myth that depression is caused solely by a chemical imbalance in your brain, a lack of serotonin, and that popping a pill is enough to fix that. But depression is way too complex and has many different c Never dealt with depression but wanted a better understanding of what its like and what works (or doesn't work) to aid it. I think Hari does a pretty good job discussing this and I felt his deeply personal depression story was a moving contribution. Hari criticises Big Pharma for perpetuating the myth that depression is caused solely by a chemical imbalance in your brain, a lack of serotonin, and that popping a pill is enough to fix that. But depression is way too complex and has many different causes. Antidepressants may be a partial solution for some, but definitely not the solution for all. I like that Hari made that point, rather than just constantly bash antidepressants. Some things in the book, particularly the "unexpected" solutions, weren't too groundbreaking for me. However, I thought the stories were so interesting and I liked the parallel between depression in the West and in the East. I was surprised multiple times, learned new facts and had my views changed. All in all, a very informative book to read.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Emma Deplores Goodreads Censorship

    This is an important book that has the potential to change the way many people see the world. It’s about depression, but depression on a continuum that includes the sort of unhappiness that most people in the modern world experience – which makes it not just a book for people with depression but a book for anyone who cares about their own mental health. It’s essentially a research-based popular science book on what makes a good life. It’s a fairly short book that’s packed with a lot of informatio This is an important book that has the potential to change the way many people see the world. It’s about depression, but depression on a continuum that includes the sort of unhappiness that most people in the modern world experience – which makes it not just a book for people with depression but a book for anyone who cares about their own mental health. It’s essentially a research-based popular science book on what makes a good life. It’s a fairly short book that’s packed with a lot of information, but essentially, it turns out the notion that depression arises spontaneously from biological malfunctions has never been proven and probably isn’t true, though it’s been pushed hard by the pharmaceutical industry. The theory that it’s caused by serotonin levels was a hypothesis that wasn’t actually borne out in research. And in fact, the utility of antidepressants hasn’t been proven either: at best they provide a small improvement for a small number of people (though they’re noticeably less effective than improving your sleep, for one), once you control for the placebo effect and people who would have gotten better regardless. But in the meanwhile, they have real, negative side effects. Research actually links depression first to bad things happening to people, and second to a number of factors that could be summed up as “modern life” and that the author refers to as “lost connections.” There’s the fact that people are increasingly isolated from one another; the fact that many people find their work meaningless, have little to no control at work and get no recognition for doing a good job; the fact that people are constantly bombarded with the message that the way to a better life is through spending; and more. Living in a society with a large wealth disparity and being far removed from nature have also been proven to increase rates of depression. Some have criticized the book for not saying much that was new to them, but all of this was new to me. I’d always assumed people who said things like “we don’t have depression in our country” were like people who say nobody in their country is gay, that rates of depression and anxiety are uniform and the most developed societies were the lucky ones because people get treatment. But actually, people in traditional societies are less likely to have mental illnesses, and have better outcomes. There’s too much information for me to summarize here, and I wouldn’t anyway because I think everyone should read this. That said, the book isn’t perfect. It’s sometimes also about anxiety, which tends to occur alongside depression, but sometimes not; the effectiveness of medication for anxiety isn’t discussed. It doesn’t discuss the impacts of physical health (diet, sleep, exercise, illness) on mental health, which seemed like an oversight. Its discussion of the positive impacts of spending time in nature is simplistic, perhaps because the author has done little of this in his life. It spends very little time, perhaps because it’s not the point of the book, on depression caused by specific events in people’s lives (there are a couple of short chapters labeled as discussing childhood trauma, though it’s pretty clear from the discussion itself that trauma in adulthood causes depression too). My final concern doesn’t speak to the quality of the book, but to the effect it might have on someone who reads it at the wrong time. As the author acknowledges – having suffered from depression himself, and wanting for years to believe that medication was the answer – many of these problems are huge. About 100 pages are about solutions, so it’s hardly a hopeless book, but these solutions require real lifestyle changes, and some require political and social change. It’s all a lot more daunting than taking a pill, and I would be concerned about people with depression reading this and concluding that their situation is hopeless. Hari’s argument that depression shouldn’t be pathologized, but is instead a sign of a sick society, may be empowering to some, but I suspect there are many people out there who need the placebo and the hope that comes with it. At any rate, this is a book that caused me to do a lot of thinking. It’s well-researched and comes with extensive citations, while also being very readable and compelling. With the caveat above, I would recommend it to anyone, and think that virtually everyone would get something out of it.

  24. 5 out of 5

    David

    It's strange when the book you need more than any other finds you. This incredibly well researched book takes a look at the antidepressant industry and then in a heartbeat tells you what things other than simply biology, are making us stare longingly into the bottom of a river in the dark, weighing up whether or not the intensity of death would outweigh the constant relentless pain of the day to day. The journey of the read was more efficient at motivating me to help myself and others than any o It's strange when the book you need more than any other finds you. This incredibly well researched book takes a look at the antidepressant industry and then in a heartbeat tells you what things other than simply biology, are making us stare longingly into the bottom of a river in the dark, weighing up whether or not the intensity of death would outweigh the constant relentless pain of the day to day. The journey of the read was more efficient at motivating me to help myself and others than any of the Fluoxetine I'd been given, and even though I doubled my dose of reading, I never spent two days vomiting myself to death with Seratonin syndrome like I did with Prozac. The chapters about what has inspired, or at least maintained my depression were interesting and some of them rang so true that I got tinnitus. Highly recommended even if you aren't plagued by anxiety or depression, and just feel a bit blegh sometimes.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Samidha; समिधा

    *Note: A copy of the book was provided in exchange of an honest review. I would like to thank @BloomsburyIndia for the copy. The quotes are taken from an uncorrected proof copy and are subject to change.” Review: In my second semester of college, we did a paper called “Group and Youth Psychology”. What I remember most from the class is a sense of understanding that what is actually happening to me isn’t unique or tabooed in any way, and at the same time I also felt blessed that unlike some *Note: A copy of the book was provided in exchange of an honest review. I would like to thank @BloomsburyIndia for the copy. The quotes are taken from an uncorrected proof copy and are subject to change.” Review: In my second semester of college, we did a paper called “Group and Youth Psychology”. What I remember most from the class is a sense of understanding that what is actually happening to me isn’t unique or tabooed in any way, and at the same time I also felt blessed that unlike some of the case studies, I could consciously identify that there was a deep feeling of sadness, with moments of joy and then absolutely and painful anxiety. I am in no way saying, that whatever I felt is what everyone else goes through, or whatever were my causes were everybody’s’ too. I am only saying that post that semester I was able to breathe a little better, be more in tune with my feelings. “You need your nausea. You need your pain. It is a message and we must listen to the message” This book was just a prolonged exercise in the same feeling. It is beautifully crafted and written, in a way that the feeling that “we aren’t alone” in reinforced. For someone who’s already studied group studies and experiments, this won’t seem to be saying a lot. It is the writer’s own insight, provided by the anecdotes and the stories of people removed from the field of psychology, that are truly inspiring. After reading the book, I just remember analysing every aspect of my life, do I sometimes avoid people? Do I deliberately make myself feel cut-off? What is affecting me more: my social, psychological or biological factors? Can I really open up to my family and find the unconditional support from them, which a therapist gives? The real life incidents of Kotti, the Clinic, and the Motor Cycle Shop are admirable and really revolutionary. Most of the other finding seemed pretty straightforward and obvious, but I was still shocked to find out that these aren’t widely accepted by psychiatrists. Another shocker was the pills, and the antidepressants. Some people I know, have structured their life around the idea that there is something geological and biological “lacking” in them, and by taking these antidepressants they would be able to “function” better. And for the most part even I had that point of view. So when the reality was presented with figures and experiments, I was really pissed. Generally, anyone who has been holding on to their pill as means to get better from whatever they are feeling, won’t be happy if you suddenly told them that this pill doesn’t work 89% of the time. Another fact was the equating of grief with mental illness. Grieving is a form of overcoming loss. And lately everywhere, there seems to be an expiration date on the amount of time you can spend grieving over something, which includes breakups or fight over your best friend. However when this fact is written down, in Psychology journals, it just takes another level of seriousness. Someone who has been crying over a fight they had over a month ago, reads somewhere that this behaviour is (in all possibility very similar to) a mental illness, they will inadvertently start believing that there is something wrong with their way of coping or thinking. One possible drawback for me was, the lack of east centered data. Most studies focused on the west and even though in passing Hari did mention India and China and the Middle East, there were very few experiments that took place in these countries.  “As long as you live this neuroplasticity never stops, and the brain ‘is always changing’, Marc explained to me” There was just so many thought provoking case studies in the book. Depression and Anxiety has been extensively researched, and new insights have been provided. Bottom line is, this book is a masterpiece that everyone should read. It isn’t a solution or a cure to all our distress, but it is a start of something wonderful, and of communication and connection with nature, and with yourself. “We have been tribe-less and disconnected for so long now. It is time for us all to come home.” - Samidha

  26. 4 out of 5

    Emily

    I realized how controversial this book was as soon as I started talking about it to people in my life who have been diagnosed with depression. Challenging the strictly pharmaceutical approach to addressing depression is no small thing, and when I factor in that I’ve never been treated for depression, I feel...maybe not like the ideal person to sing the praises of this book or the ideas therein. But since the ideas make a lot of sense to me, I’m going to sing a few praises and also note that the I realized how controversial this book was as soon as I started talking about it to people in my life who have been diagnosed with depression. Challenging the strictly pharmaceutical approach to addressing depression is no small thing, and when I factor in that I’ve never been treated for depression, I feel...maybe not like the ideal person to sing the praises of this book or the ideas therein. But since the ideas make a lot of sense to me, I’m going to sing a few praises and also note that the author speaks from the experience of someone who spent 15 years on antidepressants and was very hesitant to look for other answers to his problem. The heart of this book can be summed up by this quote near the end.You are not suffering from a chemical imbalance in your brain. You are suffering from a social and spiritual imbalance in how we live. Much more than you’ve been told up to now, it’s not serotonin; it’s society. It’s not your brain; it’s your pain. Your biology can make your stress worse, for sure. But it’s not the cause. Half the book covers his search and discoveries of other possible causes of depression, and the last half consists of proposed solutions to each. While the first half made perfect sense to me, it was hard not to get discouraged by the solutions presented in the second half, some of which require huge societal and political shifts. I believe big changes can happen, and that a lot of what he talks about in the second half of the book needs to happen, but boy, it all sounds hard. I believe the author recognizes this and tries to give the reader hope with the example of other major shifts that have made people’s lives better. I’m not sure how to wrap things up except to say that the book offers great ideas, many of which will not be easily or quickly carried out. There’s an extensive notes section at the end, and a lot of his references are from studies published in scholarly journals. I wish he’d provided a bibliography as well. There were lots of book recommendations within the notes, but a separate section listing his book references would have been great for a lazy person who didn’t jot them down when she should have. Interesting side note: I’m taking a class on research and assessment that I’m having a very hard time applying to my professional life, but it has given me a good basis to understand his terminology when referring to the different research studies he used as source material. I guess the crazy amount of money going into grad school this semester is good for something.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Elvina Zafril

    I love to read books about psychology since I don't know when. It helps me to understand more about things that related to psychology. For this book talks more about depression and why people are depressed and how to find hope. I think the author really go through research and dig deeper about depression. This book is well written and easy to read. I agreed that the depression has the actual reasons. Some people having this negative experiences more than positive and not happy about it and tend to I love to read books about psychology since I don't know when. It helps me to understand more about things that related to psychology. For this book talks more about depression and why people are depressed and how to find hope. I think the author really go through research and dig deeper about depression. This book is well written and easy to read. I agreed that the depression has the actual reasons. Some people having this negative experiences more than positive and not happy about it and tend to think of suicide and these experiences cause a depression and anxiety. I think this book is suitable for people who are having depression or suffering because of it. This book is really good. I'm really glad that i received this book from Pansing. Thank you Pansing for sending me a copy of Lost Connection in return for an honest review.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Sadie

    Long German rambling review ahead (below), be aware*, I'll try to wrap up a shorter English version, here we go: I really enjoyed the second half of the book, which reads like a collection of essays about people who challenge the current system with alternative ways of living in a (more friendly, less egoistical, less capitalism-oriented) society. If this was what the book was about - how to become a better human, how to make the world a better place, how to revive those old networks and societe Long German rambling review ahead (below), be aware*, I'll try to wrap up a shorter English version, here we go: I really enjoyed the second half of the book, which reads like a collection of essays about people who challenge the current system with alternative ways of living in a (more friendly, less egoistical, less capitalism-oriented) society. If this was what the book was about - how to become a better human, how to make the world a better place, how to revive those old networks and societes of together instead of me(we) against you(them) - I'd've really enjoyed this. But alas, this book promised to "uncover the real causes of depression" and to offer "unexpected solutions". And to me, it more or less failed on both accounts. Of course people are happier and less ill if they live in stable families/communities, have a job that fulfills them, have a sense in life and so on. Is any of that new? I wonder... Instead, the author claims that the new thing is the connection between those circumstances and depression. In other words: He says that doctors and therapists most often (if not always) only look at the medical side of depression and how to treat it (with more or less random pills), but only seldomly (or in his case, never) take a closer look at other (social, trauma based) backgrounds of the patient. He says that during his 30 years of treatment with antidepressants, he never - not once - got asked by his doctor/psychiatrist if he has reasons to be sad, if something bad happened to him and so on. At that point, I almost abandonded the book, for this, I don't believe. He often refers to the (pretty similar) situation he found in Germany, so I can't blame regional differences, but still, I don't get any of this. My (second hand) experiences are totally different. I mean, I took part in some sessions and my, there was a lot of talk on all things emotional and social and what not. Re-education is sponsored because of depression caused (via diagnosis) by the previous working conditions. Of course there's lots of room for improvement for this system - but to say the idea of social background is neglected is something at least I can't say at all. Also: I had issues with the general "depression is not a sickness, it's the world that's sick"-theme. Depression IS a sickness, and people who suffer from it really suffer a lot, and imho, this book's message really doesn't help to create further awareness in that respect. Some totally else that disturbed me, style related: Many chapters end in some form of cliffhanger (or some sort of connection to the following chapter), such as "But I had no idea what the man I was about to meet, would reveal to me next." That got annoying very fast. Tl;dr: Interesting essays on how to make the world a better place, but as a groundbreaking book on depression, it was a miss for me. Two well meant stars for the quite interesting and entertaining second half and the general uplifting beat of this work. *(this was my first ARC by netgalley.de, the German edition is due today - hence the rambly German review below). ******************************* Dies ist ein gutes Buch, das viele Kritiken an den heutigen, kapitalistisch geprägten Gesellschaften der westlichen Welt zusammenfasst und aufzeigt, wie diese Lebensweisen dazu führen, dass so viele Menschen dabei "auf der Strecke" bleiben - nicht nur im materialistischen/sozialen, sondern auch im gesundheitlichen Sinn. Depressionen, so der Autor, werden nämlich durch viel mehr ausgelöst als "nur" Leitungsstörungen im Gehirn - und das sei auch der Grund, warum die medizinische Behandlung in Form von Antidepressiva so gut wie nie helfe. Um Depressionen gezielt und dauerhaft zu bekämpfen, müssten neben den biologischen auch die sozialen Faktoren (stärker) mit einbezogen werden. Pillen einzuwerfen allein sei in den meisten Fällen nicht mehr als ein Ratespiel - krank sind nicht die Menschen, die sie nehmen, sondern die Welt um sie herum. Soweit, ganz grob geschildert, die Grundidee dieses Buchs. Das Fehlen des gemeinschaftlichen Zusammenhalts, der materielle Egoismus, das ständige Streben nach höher, schneller, weiter, mehr - all dieses sind Faktoren, die viele Menschen psychisch krank machen. So weit, so gut - ich stimme dem Autor in allen diesen Punkten zu. Die Beispiele für eine "bessere Welt", die er im zweiten Teil des Buches reportagenartig vorstellt, fand ich alle anschaulich und interessant: Ob das Berliner Multikulti-Viertel, das sich aufgrund drohender Gentrifizierung von anonymer Nachbarschaft zu einer rührigen Kommune mit Protestcharakter gewandelt hat, oder das Geschäftsmodell eines Fahrradmechanikers, der sein Geschäft in Form einer Genossenschaft aufgezogen hat: Die Menschen, die in diesen Modellen leben oder arbeiten, sind größtenteils glücklicher, zufriedener und weniger krank. Ihr Leben hat einen Sinn, hinter dem sie stehen, mit Leidenschaft und Herz. Sie sind Menschen, die wir uns alle als Beispiele für eine alternative Wohn- oder Lebensweise nehmen könnten. So hat das Buch gut für mich funktioniert: Als Anregung für eine bessere Welt. Von der kleinen Achtsamkeitsübung bis zur ganz großen Kapitalismuskritik. Was für mich nicht gut funktioniert hat, war der Zusammenhang zu den "wahren Ursachen" und "unerwarteten Lösungen" von und für Depressionen, die der Untertitel suggeriert. Was das angeht, habe ich hier nicht viel Neues erfahren. Der Teil des Buches wäre besser geeignet als Historie über die medizinische Betrachtung der Depression im Laufe der vergangenen Jahrzehnte ("Was bisher geschah"). Für mich (als Angehörige depressiver Menschen mit Therapie- und Behandlungserfahrung) stand es schon vorher völlig außer Frage, dass auch soziale Faktoren Ursachen einer Depression sind. In einem der ersten Kapitel bemängelt der Autor, dass er in mehr als 30 (!) Jahren Behandlung mit Antidepressiva nicht ein einziges Mal von seinem Arzt gefragt wurde, warum er traurig sei, ob ihn etwas belaste usw. Tut mir leid, aber das kann ich nicht glauben, und da hat der Autor gleich zu Beginn sehr viel Skepsis bei mir gesät. Sind also meine eigenen Erfahrungen mit Psychiatern, Psychotherapeuten, Hausärzten und Therapieeinrichtungen so außergewöhnlich gut, dass ich (und meine betroffenen Angehörigen) zumindest in dieser Hinsicht zu absoluten Glückskindern gehören? Hmmmm... Auch die Kritik, dass soziale Faktoren keine oder viel zu wenig Berücksichtigung finden, kann ich so nicht bestätigen. Berufswechsel aufgrund akuter Depressionen (die wiederum aufgrund des Berufes ausgelöst und auch so diagnostiziert wurden) mit anschließender bezuschusster Reha/Umschulung - wieder nur ein glücklicher Einzelfall? Jahrelange (akute) therapeutische Behandlung mit Entspannungsübungen und den verschiedensten Kommunikationsformen - ich selbst war Teil einer Therapiesitzung für Angehörige, in der genau jene Fragen (nach den sozialen Faktoren, eventuellen Traumata, Gefühlen von- und zueinander) behandelt wurden - wieder nur ein glücklicher Einzelfall? Ich verstehe das nicht, ganz ehrlich. Und man kann nicht einmal die "vielleicht sind das die Zustände in den USA"-Karte ziehen, denn der Autor benennt mehrfach ausdrücklich die aktuelle Lage in Deutschland und hat hier auch viel recherchiert. Ich bin wirklich ratlos, was diese Passagen des Buches angeht. Natürlich hat das System jede Menge Lücken und viel Verbesserungspotenzial nach oben, keine Frage. Die Plätze für stationäre Therapie sind zu knapp, die Wartezeiten zu lang, die Dauer oft zu kurz, die Behandlungen nicht immer "treffsicher". Auch die Antidepressiva sind sicher nicht der Weisheit letzter Schluss - allein schon die langwierige Suche nach dem passenden Präparat gibt zu denken. Und dennoch: Alles im Körper beruht nun mal auf chemischen Prozessen, auch im Gehirn. Und der Autor gesteht Betroffenen ja auch durchaus zu, dass (zumindest bei einigen von ihnen) Antidepressiva helfen. Aber zu sagen, Therapie bestehe im Regelfall nur aus Tablettenlotterie und keiner fragt nach mehr? Und die Idee, auch mal nach anderen Faktoren zu schauen, als bahnbrechende Neuerung zu verkaufen? Das kam bei mir nicht gut an. Und was wäre die Alternative? Nicht jeder Mensch hat die Möglichkeit, sein Leben einfach mal neu in einer Kommune durchzustarten. Da steht dann wieder das System im Weg, das finanzielle oder mobile Hindernisse aufbaut. Teufelskreis. Auch der grundsätzliche Gedanke "Depression ist keine Krankheit, sondern ein Symptom einer kranken Gesellschaft" - stieß mir sauer auf. Kämpfen die Betroffenen nicht schon viel zu lange dafür, dass die Gesellschaft Depression (und andere psychische Beeinträchtigungen) als Krankheit anerkennt? Dass es eben kein "Jetzt stellt dich nicht so an"-Ding ist, an der die "böse Welt da draußen" Schuld ist? Der Autor geht selbst (kurz) darauf ein, aber mir hat das nicht gereicht. Ich glaube, da tut man der Community auf lange Sicht keinen wirklichen Gefallen mit. Zu guter Letzt noch eine stilistische Anmerkung: Mit waren zu viele "Cliffhanger" bzw. zu gewollte Überleitungen in dem Buch. Fast jedes Kapitel lief auf eine Formulierung à la "Aber da wusste ich noch nicht, dass ich bald einen Mann treffen sollte, der noch viel beeindruckendere Dinge herausgefunden hatte" heraus. Das hat schnell genervt. Alles in allem ein gutes gesellschaftskritisches Buch mit unterhaltsamen Reportagen alternativen Lebensweisen. Als bahnbrechendes Werk über Depressionen hat es mir nicht gefallen.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Lana Reads

    It took me months to finish, but in the meantime, I had quite interesting discussions with friends about lots of points raised here. I appreciated how the author backed up his every statement with research, done somewhere in the world. The last part got a bit repetitive and dragged somewhat, but I still liked it a lot. Depression and anxiety might, in one way, be the sanest reaction you have. It's a signal, saying - you shouldn't have to live this way, and if you aren't helped to find a bette It took me months to finish, but in the meantime, I had quite interesting discussions with friends about lots of points raised here. I appreciated how the author backed up his every statement with research, done somewhere in the world. The last part got a bit repetitive and dragged somewhat, but I still liked it a lot. Depression and anxiety might, in one way, be the sanest reaction you have. It's a signal, saying - you shouldn't have to live this way, and if you aren't helped to find a better path, you will be missing out on so much that is best about being a human. This book does not heal your depression, but it does give quite a perspective and maybe helps to find new motivations for those who feel like constantly pushing against a wall and not going anywhere.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Brendan Monroe

    "It's all in your head." That, essentially, has been the medical community's response to those suffering from depression for decades now. That answer isn't just wrong, it's glib, it's cruel, and it's proven to have fatal consequences. I read Chasing the Scream: The First and Last Days of the War on Drugs just last year, and this is a worthy follow-up. Hari is one of the most intriguing authors of non-fiction out there, not least for the way in which he takes something that the public has long vie "It's all in your head." That, essentially, has been the medical community's response to those suffering from depression for decades now. That answer isn't just wrong, it's glib, it's cruel, and it's proven to have fatal consequences. I read Chasing the Scream: The First and Last Days of the War on Drugs just last year, and this is a worthy follow-up. Hari is one of the most intriguing authors of non-fiction out there, not least for the way in which he takes something that the public has long viewed one way, and turns it on its head. Like the War on Drugs, society has long told us that the cause of depression was simply due to a lack of serotonin and as a result depression could be cured by taking pills that would act to boost serotonin. The reality is — surprise surprise — a good deal more complicated than that. If depression were simply due to a lack of serotonin, why then are so many people plunged into depression as a result of external events? You lose your job, a relative dies, a friend is diagnosed with a serious illness ... So OF COURSE there are extenuating circumstances, we all know that I think ... Don't we? Or does the medical community, in their race to prescribe pills, just ignore extenuating circumstances? I honestly don't know the answer as I have never been diagnosed with depression and as a result don't really know what the procedure is when you are. But I do agree with Hari that the root of depression is more just a simple imbalance in the brain. That isn't to say that the causes of depression aren't at times surprisingly basic. Lack of sunshine obviously plays a part, as does how well the society functions. Because really, when it comes down to it, are there any countries more depressed than those that made up the former Soviet Union? Take it from a guy who spent five years living in Ukraine. That part of the world isn't exactly going to be confused with the Happiest Place on Earth anytime soon. How did I survive? Not with alcohol, the drug of choice for people in that part of the world, but with dark chocolate. Lots of it. So the reasons for depression can, of course, be complex and multi-faceted. But as Hari illustrates, when difficulties crop up in our lives (and they almost always do), the biggest factor that determines whether or not we'll sink into a crippling depression is often our community. In other words, do you have a support group or a family you can fall back on in hard times? It's all rather simple when we think about it. We all need someone, and no matter how self-sufficient some of us might seem, at the end of the day we all crave and need contact with others. It's that precious contact that has the power to lift us up out of depression, not a pill pedaled to the desperate by Big Pharma. All of which is to say that while anti-depressants can have an initial positive effect, it's not as strong an effect as you might think. These types of drugs too often become a crutch, a necessity, until we need more and more of them to dull the pain and isolation that will only worsen with time and more pills. That's why it's up to all of us to combat depression by caring more, by resisting the urge to envy and think badly of others in order to make ourselves feel better, and by helping to build better communities around us. If you or someone you know suffers from depression, this is required reading.

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