Insights from Johann Hari’s Lost Connections
I just finished reading the book Lost Connections by Johann Hari. The subtitle of the book is Uncovering the real causes of depression – and the unexpected solutions. I believe that we all will encounter depression at some point in our life, whether it be direct or indirect.
I know that reading a book about depression may not be at the top of many of your reading lists, but I found myself reading this book out of necessity, and found many insights into the “why” of depression and “how” to overcome it. That being said, I wanted to share some of the insights from the book so that you may find yourself informed or empowered to face depression if it is present in your life.
I will outline some of the structure of the book along with some highlights. Ultimately, if this article has impacted you, I highly recommend reading this book. It is full of real-life stories and statistics that will help anyone struggling with or struggling to understand depression.
The Nine Causes of Depression
- Disconnection from Meaningful work
– Lack of passion, lack of motivation or purpose
– We do not understand the “why” of what we do
- Disconnection from other people
– “Becoming acutely lonely, the experiment found, was as stressful as experiencing a physical attack.”
– Lonely people were also three times more likely to get sick than connected people.
– “The stunning thing was that loneliness is not merely the result of depression…indeed it leads to depression.”
- Disconnection from meaningful values
– Intrinsic values vs. extrinsic values
– Intrinsic values are deep inside and provide unadulterated enjoyment of personal activities that satisfy an innate desire
– Extrinsic, or junk, values are momentary satisfiers that carry the weight of comparison
- Disconnection caused by trauma
– He examines the connection between obesity and childhood trauma
– “When people have these kinds of problems, it’s time to stop asking what’s wrong with them,” he said, “and time to start asking what happened to them.”
- Disconnection from status and respect
– Inequality seems to be driving up depression
- Disconnection from the natural world
– Cases show that being exposed to nature reduces the likelihood and amount of depression.
– A disconnection from nature and movement leads to an unhealthy life.
- Disconnection from a hopeful and secure future
– “It was, he concluded, the loss of the future that was driving the suicide rates up. A sense of a positive future projects you. If life is bad today, you can think – this hurts, but it won’t hurt forever. But when it is taken away, it can feel like your pain will never go away.
- & 9. The role of genes and brain changes
– “Your brain is constantly changing to meet your needs. It does this mainly in two ways: by pruning the synapses you don’t use, and by growing the synapses you do use.”
– Certain people, through their genes, have an increased risk of depression, but only in a certain environment.
As I mentioned earlier, I read this book from a place of depression, though I did not know at the time what to call it. I needed someone to help me put my feelings into words, and I needed to know that I was not alone. Though this book helped me frame my understanding and create a gameplan for combatting depression, it is not the answer.
If you are reading this because you feel a sadness that you cannot explain, a lack of joy from usually joyful experiences, or find yourself feeling alone; I urge you to reach out to another person and make a connection. The human connection is non-negotiable, and it is necessary for life. It is the people in my life who love me that have had the greatest impact on my well being.
I hope that this article has brought you to hope, and if you haven’t heard it lately, know that you are loved.