Lost Connections, Uncovering the Real Causes of Depression – and the Unexpected Solutions is an interesting book by Johann Hari. It’s his story about depression and his extensive research to understand it. As I can never learn enough about all aspects of health, I was excited to read it.
I’ve been depressed at times in my life, and in all likelihood you have too. I’ve had clients on anti-depressants who are still depressed to some degree. Anti-depressants can be helpful, but are by no means a panacea.
Hari immediately dispels the myth of depression being the result of a chemical imbalance in the brain. Though biology is a part of it, that’s mostly a story we’ve been fed by Big Pharma that’s worth about $100 billion dollars.
Hari makes the case that the real reasons for depression and anxiety are lost connections.
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
It’s easy to believe. There is nothing chemically wrong with our brains. But there is plenty wrong with our society.
• We feel trapped in jobs we hate.
• Much of our socializing is done through computer devices.
• More than one in three Canadians are obese, often attributable to childhood trauma.
• We no longer have boundaries between work and personal time.
• We live in concrete jungles.
• Job security is lost to part-time work and the gig economy.
Here’s the worst of it. According to the book, “Eight billionaires own more wealth than the bottom half of the human race.” Now that’s depressing!
Yes, it’s easy to see our society has lost touch. We’re disconnected. But don’t let that get you down. Hari offers solutions too. Here’s one.
Isabel Behncke, a social scientist who speaks from experience, says that depressed people often make everything about themself. They are trapped in their ego. Connection to nature helps to break that down. Behncke practices what she preaches. Hari was forced to climb Tunnel Mountain with her if he wanted an interview.
Nature and spirituality are deeply connected. Have you ever experienced something beautiful that made you cry tears of joy? Grasses blowing in the wind can do it for me. Maybe it’s the ocean or a mountaintop that has done it for you. Art and music can also have that effect. These experiences don’t come from ego or separateness. They come from presence – from connection.
Johann Hari tells us he is an atheist. It’s not surprising then, that disconnection from spirituality is not offered as a source of depression. (I would add it.) Yet loving-kindness meditation is offered up as a solution to shrink our ego and strengthen our connection.
Hari downplays Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, yet it’s one of the best things we’ve got in terms of professional help. If you are depressed, know that you probably can’t beat this alone. (Connections, remember?) Reaching out is probably the hardest thing to do when you’re depressed, but it’s vital.
I’m no medical professional but I think if you want to feel better it’s important to get out of your head and connect with someone or something outside of you. As far as I know, only the spiritually enlightened can be alone and in bliss.