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

I recently read this great book Lost Connections: Uncovering the Real Causes of Depression – and the Unexpected Solutions” by Johann Hari

It has a bunch of stuff in it that would really help you better understand the causes of depression so you can sidestep them to never have to experience depression ever again, as well as get very actionable advice on how to live a life that is much happier, fulfilled and meaningful.

The first key takeaway of this book:

Depression isn’t caused by a randomly occurring chemical imbalance in your brain, it’s caused by having a depressing life, and just because you have a lot of money, doesn’t mean your life isn’t depressing.

To say that this theory of depression being caused by a chemical imbalance in your brain has been discredited implies it was ever actually credited to begin with.

“The United Nations—in its official statement for World Health Day in 2017—explained that “the dominant biomedical narrative of depression” is based on “biased and selective use of research outcomes” that “cause more harm than good, undermine the right to health, and must be abandoned.” There is a “growing evidence base,” they state, that there are deeper causes of depression, so while there is some role for medications, we need to stop using them “to address issues which are closely related to social problems.” We need to move from “focusing on ‘chemical imbalances’ to focusing on ‘power imbalances.’ ”

The book really digs into how people were sold the lie of depression being caused by just some spontaneous chemical brain imbalance and thus solvable only through anti-depressants which inexplicably don’t work very well or at all for most people most of the time (spoiler alert: billions of dollars being at stake)

The book also covers in detail the real causes of depression, with the scientific studies to back them up and interesting anecdotes about the studies to stop the book from being boring. These causes are (and nod your head for the ones that resonate with you)

1. Having a depressing job (do you have control over it? Does it feel meaningful to you?)
2. Being disconnected from other people (how many people would loan you $100 if you needed it?)
3. Being materialistic (the more materialistic you are, lines up with the more unhappy you are)
4. Having had a traumatic childhood (whether you realise your childhood was traumatic or not, but you can address this in therapy)
5. Living away from nature (very interesting studies showing the benefits of living even near a park)
6. Having financial insecurity (i.e.: being in debt, living paycheque to paycheque)

And then the author goes on to explain how to make your life better. I’ve summarised some of the easiest methods he’s researched, which you could apply to yourself, right now:

1. Join a bunch of community groups to check them out (then continuing to participate in whichever ones you enjoyed the most)
2. Sign up to do a bunch of different community service things (continuing to do whichever community service you enjoyed the most)
3. Install ad blocker in your computer (easy as fuck) to decrease the problem recognition that is the purpose of all these internet ads
4. Google “online therapists” and discuss your childhood with them, it’s cheap, easy and incredibly effective, even if you’re pretty sure your childhood was fine
5. Take acid, with a guide, whilst lying down and blindfolded, visualising whatever and exploring those visualisations (your subconscious) to essentially lucid dream whilst awake and learn how to have a more healthy relationship with your ego

There are tonnes of other things he recommends for improvement, but those are just the top ones I thought of which you can do quite quickly and easily

My biggest criticism of the book is the author’s clear political bias, but that only really comes in to really affect two or three chapters (basically that the government should pay for everyone’s shit and capitalism is evil), but outside of those few chapters he stays quite scientific and useful.

I learned loads from this book and hope to apply all those suggestions soon, and I hope you do too.

You can check out a sample of the book on Amazon, to see what you think of it.

Then after that, if you don’t need convincing about why depression being caused by more than just chemical imbalances, I’d recommend you just skip ahead to chapter 16, which starts to dig into the really actionable advice on how you can make yourself less depressed, and more happy and fulfilled in your life.

Let me know what you think of the book and how you go with implementing it!

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