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Review: Lost Connections: Uncovering the Real Causes of Depression – and the Unexpected Solutions by Johann Hari

Lost Connections: Uncovering the Real Causes of Depression – and the Unexpected SolutionsLost Con­nec­tions: Uncov­er­ing the Real Caus­es of Depres­sion – and the Unex­pect­ed Solu­tions by Johann Hari

I just fin­ished this book, which I lis­tened to while dri­ving. I find myself wish­ing that I’d read it on my Kin­dle, instead, in order to be able to take some notes. It’s a rich read, full of men­tions of peo­ple and stud­ies that I’d like to have been able to look up.

I don’t know that I com­plete­ly agree with Hari, who posits that the vast major­i­ty of peo­ple are depressed with­out any sort of bio­log­i­cal cause, but instead due to var­i­ous types of dis­con­nec­tion. I can see that each of the con­nec­tions he points out are impor­tant, and improv­ing them could cer­tain­ly help depres­sion. How­ev­er, I’m fair­ly cer­tain that we’ve got a chick­en and egg issue here. From what I under­stand, even if you don’t ini­tial­ly become depressed due to a lack of cer­tain neu­ro­trans­mit­ters or what have you, being depressed can lead to the bio­log­i­cal dif­fer­ences that can be treat­ed with anti­de­pres­sants. That’s why those med­ica­tions do work for a fair num­ber of peo­ple who try them. He does talk about neu­ro­plas­tic­i­ty, so maybe my quib­bles are seman­tic.

The sev­en ways we are dis­con­nect­ed, accord­ing to Hari, are from:
1) mean­ing­ful work;
2) oth­er peo­ple;
3) mean­ing­ful val­ues;
4) child­hood trau­ma;
5) sta­tus and respect;
6) the nat­ur­al world;
7) a hope­ful or secure future.

He does address how to recon­nect on each of these issues lat­er in the book. He also acknowl­edges that some (most?) of these issues are due to soci­etal rather than indi­vid­ual fail­ings. The fix­es are beyond many peo­ple because of that, but the more we become aware of them the more we can work on fix­ing our soci­ety.

I found the book very good, and cer­tain­ly thought-pro­vok­ing. It isn’t an easy read, but it is put togeth­er quite well. I rec­om­mend it!

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