Lost Connections by Johann Hari
What is this book is about?
This book takes you on a journey, uncovering the truth about the real causes of depression and anxiety and the treatment that leads to recovery. The author Johann Hari is an investigative journalist with a lived experience of depression and anxiety, who was prescribed antidepressants at the age of 18 after being told there was an imbalance in the chemical makeup of his brain. 20 years later he has discovered that he, like millions of others, was sold a misinformed story about his depression and anxiety and that there were other, far more complex reasons underlying his symptoms. He also realised that he needed a completely different approach to management if he was going to heal from his mental illness and begin to thrive.
What I liked about the book...
I like that this book is confronting. Johann Hari doesn’t hold back from shining a torch on the massive holes in the scientific literature about depression and anxiety, especially with regards to its treatment with antidepressants. As a medical practitioner who has prescribed these medications to numerous patients, it made me question what else I might be prescribing that could be doing more harm than good to my patients. Yet, I also feel grateful that this information is now available not only to medical practitioners like myself, but the community at large. I also like the way Johann has clearly identified 9 causes for depression and anxiety and then provided 9 steps for managing each of these causes. It is empowering for both doctors and patients alike.
My favourite chapter
The chapter that really resonated with me was about "Disconnection from meaningful values". Johann explores how our cultural values have become so toxic that they are causing our brains to rot, just like junk food causes our teeth to decay. He explains research that has been carried out in a number of countries around the world that has found that chasing extrinsic, materialistic goals, such as achieving good grades at school, getting the best-paying job, buying expensive clothes, shoes, houses, cars all leads to depression, not happiness. As a GP, I see this as a significant and important underlying cause for the rising rates of depression and anxiety in our community.
Who should read this book?
I really think that everyone should read this book. Depression and anxiety are so common these days that I think most of us would know at least one person who is close to them suffering with symptoms of depression and anxiety. I hope that many of my medical colleagues read this book, because we desperately need to change the way that the health system is treating patients with these symptoms. It will be a challenging read for many people who have taken antidepressants for depression and anxiety. Yet I hope they will realise the power of their mind is to create change in their brain and body, and take action that will lead to long lasting recovery.
Other work by Johann Hari
Johann Hari is a New York Times best-selling author. His book ‘Chasing the Scream: the First and Last Days of the War on Drugs’ has been translated into 15 languages and is currently being adapted into a major Hollywood film, and into a non-fiction documentary series.
He is one of the most-viewed TED talkers of all time: his talk, ‘Everything You Think You Know About Addiction is Wrong’, has been viewed more than 20 million times.