Regarding the book ‘Lost Connections: Uncovering the Real Causes of Depression and the Unexpected Solutions’ by Johann Hari
I saw Hari interviewed on television about his book (his website about the book).
He states in his estimation one reason for the high numbers of depression in the United States, and perhaps elsewhere, is that people are lonely. They do not have as many social connections now as they did in the past.
He questions how effective anti-depressant medications are. (I was prescribed anti-depressant medications myself for many years from the several psychiatrists that I saw for depression, and they did not help my depression. Neither did the medications I was prescribed for anxiety cure me of anxiety. However, I don’t discourage other people from trying medications.)
Here are links about his book about this subject:
Is everything you think you know about depression wrong? by Johann Hari
In this extract from his new book, Johann Hari, who took antidepressants for 13 years, calls for a new approach
Part personal odyssey and part investigation, this rigorous if flawed study finds fault with contemporary treatment of depression and anxiety
[Hari, the author, experienced depression when younger. When he sought out medical help, the doctor gave him anti-depressant medication]
… It wasn’t until he was in his 30s that he thought of all the questions the doctor didn’t ask, such as: what was his life like?
What was making him sad? What changes could be made to make life more tolerable?
The push and pull between “reactive” depression (the kind that relates to our environment and life experience) and “endogenous” depression (where something goes wrong in the brain) forms the basis of Lost Connections, an eye-opening, highly detailed though sometimes frustrating investigation into the causes and cures of depression.
The book is part personal odyssey, in which Hari gets to grips with the flaws in his own treatment, and part scholarly reflection, where he sifts through the varying perspectives of scientists, psychologists and people with depression.
In the first half, he examines the social and psychological factors that can cause reactive depression, which include hardship, trauma, loneliness, lack of fulfilment, absence of status and disconnection from nature.
He casts a damning eye on the research practices of the pharmaceutical industry, which has a clear investment in the endogenous argument, and deftly debunks the popular notion that depression stems from faulty genes.
…As well as sifting through hundreds of academic papers, Hari has talked directly to people who have made great strides in understanding depression.
by E. Bader
The author of a new book says drug companies have hoodwinked consumers into relying on medication
When British journalist Johann Hari was 18 years old, he became so depressed he went to his family physician for treatment to end his despair. Hari’s mom had suffered from depression throughout his coming of age, and he had seen numerous television programs report that low mood was inherited, innate, carried in one’s genes.
Hari’s doctor confirmed this, but added that depression was also caused by a chemical imbalance, a lack of serotonin, that could easily be corrected with medication. The teenaged Hari was relieved, eager to take whatever concoction was necessary to restore his confidence and equilibrium.
Unfortunately, the cure turned out to be far more illusory than Hari expected, and in short order his depression returned. His doctor’s solution was to increase his dosage of Paxil before switching him to Prozac.
It’s been 20 years since Hari took his first antidepressant — something he did for 13 years — and the intervening decades have taught him a great deal about the fallacies surrounding mental health and its management. For one, he learned that depression and anxiety have biological, psychological and social triggers, and need treatments that tap into each part of this triumvirate.
He discovered that consumers in much of the world have been sold a false bill of goods. The result? Unwarranted confidence in pharmaceutical solutions to the anomie caused by fraying social ties, rampant consumerism and unsatisfying work. This has boosted the bottom line of drug companies while doing little to nothing to alleviate the stress, strain and trauma of contemporary life.
Hari’s new book, “Lost Connections: Uncovering the Real Causes of Depression and the Unexpected Solutions” (Bloomsbury) zeroes in the social change that is needed to restore better relationships on the job, in families and in the neighborhoods we call home.
The book is part memoir, part investigative report and part expose of the ways consumers have been hoodwinked into relying on medication to relieve emotional distress.
The author of a new book on depression says our society’s “junk values” are making us sick.
One must register to be allowed to read the complete article on this page:
“A bold take on mental illness suggests antidepressants are not the answer”
Following web page: podcast: interview with Hari (via Blog Talk Radio):
Following web page: podcast: interview with Hari:
This week on MIA Radio, we interview journalist and author Johann Hari. Johann is one of our foremost social science thinkers and writers. In addition to writing regularly for the New York Times and Independent newspapers, he has written extensively on social science and human rights issues…
….In this interview, we talk about Johann’s latest book, Lost Connections: Uncovering the Real Causes of Depression and the Unexpected Solutions, which has been called a ‘game changer’ and received plaudits for its explanation of the social and cultural issues leading to depression and anxiety.
…In the episode we discuss:
- …What led to wanting to write a book that was partly based on his own experiences with depression and anxiety, but also that provided the evidence for social and cultural issues that may underlie the dramatic increase in the number of people seeking support for emotional distress.
- The facts behind the chemical imbalance theory of mental illness.
- The role of the bio-psycho-social model of mental distress and why we may have focussed predominantly on biological interventions.
- Social prescribing as a means to enable connection between people who struggle with depression and anxiety.
- The Hamilton Depression scale and how it shows us that the effect of antidepressant drugs is small when compared to the improvements that can be achieved without drug therapy.How stigma relates to our perceptions of an individual who is labelled mentally ill and how it changes if we think someone has a biological problem.
Some writers are critical of Hari’s book, including:
by Dean Burnett, January 2018
…I’d argue the opposite though; if you’re targeting people who don’t know the full story of depression, then it’s far more important to get it right according to the evidence, not compromise for the sake of an easy narrative. Hari’s piece repeatedly presents well-known concepts and ideas (even to those outside the medical field) as fringe ideas that he’s discovered through his own efforts.
There are alternative, and more likely, explanations. Perhaps reliance on antidepressants is due to incredible pressures of time, money and workload on medical professionals, and alternative treatments require many hours of one-on-one interaction with trained experts, rather than swallowing a few capsules a week?
The majority of the medical community could do without further criticism given all they’ve had to deal with lately.
But no, Hari portrays the medical/psychiatric/scientific establishment as some shadowy monolithic organisation, in thrall to the drug industry and unwilling to consider new approaches and ideas that challenge entrenched behaviours.
Like a prophet, journalist and author Johann Hari has seen the light. Medication for depression doesn’t always work, so all of you liars and phonies better watch out, Johann has got the answers.
Depression isn’t about chemical imbalances in the brain, says Johann, it’s about the junk values of individualism and materialism and our lack of connection to nature and each other.
…It seems a lot of people, including luminaries giving pre-publication puff quotes, dig Hari’s message that the modern world is wrong and depression is a kind of accidental involuntary critique of western values.
Instead of taking your medication – which, by the way, is massive fraud they don’t want you to know about – Hari asks: why not get yourself a more meaningful job? Be more neighbourly? Spend more time with nature and stop coveting a new sofa?
We want answers that match our beliefs
‘Mental illnesses have always been used as proxies for prevailing cultural debates’ Mental illnesses have always been used as proxies for prevailing cultural debates rather than being allowed to be experiences in themselves.
We are desperate for answers about mental illness which are in accordance with our own beliefs about how the world works and what is important. A rise in mental ill health amongst young women becomes a discussion about selfie culture. A rise in suicides amongst young men becomes a debate about the decline of traditional family values.
We love to focus on what the prevalence of mental illnesses can tell “normal” people about the world; as if people experiencing mental distress were canaries in a coalmine, but canaries who can be shamed for being stupid enough to go down into the tunnel in the first place.
Depression can’t just be a debilitating, life-wrecking thing that people do their best to muddle through. It has to mean something.
A too-easy answer Hari’s conclusion is dangerously seductive. Everyone taking medication has had the wool pulled over their eyes instead of seeing the real problems of the world.
He makes much of his own antidepressant use and decision to to stop taking them, and he’s keen to share what he found out on his journey. But this is Johann’s truth, and he’s not that interested in whether you tell him yours.
I’d agree that lots of things act upon whether you have depressive experiences. What I’m not down with is suggesting people less enlightened than Johann shouldn’t be materialistic. You have to have first had nice things to renounce them.
People becoming unwell is not a moral barometer, nor a guide to what not do with your life for those already flourishing.
Suggesting that prescribing antidepressants to a patient who suffers from clinical depression is the equivalent of treating them as a ‘machine with malfunctioning parts’ is wrong, unhelpful and even dangerous
You Can Write Your Way Out of an Emotional Funk. Here’s How. by Susan David