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

After writing this post about understanding my depression I was recommended Lost Connections.

For some it’s difficult to read.

It acknowledges that medications often don’t have a lot of scientific proof to support the claims they make and if they do it’s often just a selection of good test results to either make their competitors sound worse.

Purely marketing & sales tactics with no goal except to make money.

“Depression and anxiety have 3 kinds of causes. Biological, psychological, and social. They’re all real and none of these can be described by something as crude as the idea of a chemical imbalance.”

Lost Connections is just the latest piece of evidence to support my own experiences & theories that although medication has given me the power to start work work through my issues, neither the source or solution is because of a chemical imbalance that can be solved with medications.

The World Health Organization, the leading medical body in the world, summarized the evidence well in 2011 when they explained: “Mental health is produced socially. The presence or absence of mental health is above all a social indicator and therefore requires social as well as individual solutions.”

Hari goes on to detail the conversation he would have with his younger self.

“You are not 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 that happiness comes through money and buying objects. You need to have meaningful work. You need the natural world. You need to feel you’re respected. You NEED a secure future.

You need connections to all these things.

Your distress is not a malfunction. It is a signal. A necessary signal. It is your ally, leading you away from a wasted life and leading you towards a more fulfilling one.

This is why I feel so passionate about talking through my problems in a public arena. I’ve come to the same conclusions myself before learning about this book or the research that inspired it.

It’s why I’ve started having difficult conversations with my friends, gently encouraging them to talk to me about what they’re going through. I don’t expect that I can solve their problems for them, or get some recognition about saving their life.

I just hope that I can help them see the tools that I’ve used to turn my life around and provide some sort of community that helps them see that they are being heard, and loved, and that they too can move on.

“You need your nausea. It is a message and we must listen to the message. It will tell us what is wrong with you.”

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