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Editorial Reviews

This groundbreaking study of depression urges listeners to rethink what they know about mental health issues and reconsider how they are treated.

In Lost Connections, Johann Hari unpacks a distressing statistic: cases of anxiety and depression have been steadily on the rise since the 1980s, when he was diagnosed with depression as a teen. Curious as to why so many others in the Western world were also suffering from depression and anxiety and frustrated by the actions of the multi-billion dollar pharmaceutical industry, Hari sets out to find the real cause of the mounting mental health crisis. He asks questions of himself and society at large, navigating the psychological and environmental factors that can generate such painful feelings of disconnection. 

Drawing conclusions from observations of different communities and lifestyles, this listen reveals that the stressors and loneliness of modern life may have more of an impact than you might think. Having battled such demons himself, Hari narrates his own audiobook with a sense of hard-won perspective that adds an element of powerful poignancy. Heavily researched and compelling, Lost Connections offers brand new insight on a critical subject matter.

Publisher's Summary

From the New York Times best-selling author of Chasing the Scream, a radically new way of thinking about depression and anxiety.

What really causes depression and anxiety - and how can we really solve them? Award-winning journalist Johann Hari suffered from depression since he was a child and started taking antidepressants when he was a teenager. He was told that his problems were caused by a chemical imbalance in his brain. As an adult, trained in the social sciences, he began to investigate whether this was true - and he learned that almost everything we have been told about depression and anxiety is wrong.

Across the world, Hari found social scientists who were uncovering evidence that depression and anxiety are not caused by a chemical imbalance in our brains. In fact, they are largely caused by key problems with the way we live today. Hari's journey took him from a mind-blowing series of experiments in Baltimore, to an Amish community in Indiana, to an uprising in Berlin.

Once he had uncovered nine real causes of depression and anxiety, they led him to scientists who are discovering seven very different solutions - ones that work. It is an epic journey that will change how we think about one of the biggest crises in our culture today.

©2018 Johann Hari (P)2017 Audible, Ltd

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Some good ideas, a lot of incomplete science.

There is no doubt that many of the ideas in this book will be really helpful to a lot of people. People who have low to moderate depression will really benefit from this book. Sadly this book will not be helpful to people with severe depression or complex trauma. There are far too many places where Harri offers an oversimplified approach, for example he says if you have experienced childhood trauma, name it and you can move on. In reality trauma is much more complicated than this, it often requires medication to get people to a place where they can do the things he says. In some cases it requires months or even years of specialist treatment to get well. See The Body Keeps the Score by Bessel van der Kolk.

I am also concerned that a book like this would have the glaring omission of not talking about the importance of sleep, we have countless studies that show how poor sleep can trigger mental illness.

He says the Armish do the things he says and they are well. Yet a simple Google search will show that they do experience depression. Mental illness is immensely complicated and sadly this book offers fairly simple answers.

28 people found this helpful

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Interesting

I found this book quite helpful in simple ways like pointing out some obvious points. I enjoyed all the scientific studies he uses to back up his claim - however, like all biased books, please remember that they have been cherry picked.
Overall, I love that this book has come out to say what it has and it is important for people to realise that depression is a symptom, not a disease (in my opinion/research into the matter).
Well done.

8 people found this helpful

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Interesting to begin with but went off the rails..

Author started well with the narrative constructed around carefully selected scientific studies. However, as the book progressed the author's political views started to replace academic sources as the basis upon which the narrative was based. By the end I'd had enough of the socialism cures depression line being pushed. Antidepressants sure don't cure depression but neither does repressive government intervention into every aspect of people's lives which is what the author idealistically advocates.

17 people found this helpful

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Fantastic concepts

I loved it, a great overview of the research and literature investigating depression and anxiety. As someone who has suffered from multiple mental health issues over time this was refreshing to hear. Highly recommend.

15 people found this helpful

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Timely and well-researched

I was very glad to find Johann Hari taking on the brain-chemistry model of depression and anxiety, which has been used to sell masses of drugs over the years. Hari alone with not stop this, but he will at least make lots of people think before they take yet another anti-depressant - and as he discovered, these can work for a certain period, or very well for some people. I appreciate Hari's urging us to look at social and personal causes first - making changes in these big areas could be highly disruptive of course, but in the end prove to be the only effective fixer. I enjoyed his reading of the book, but got a bit bored with all those surveys, while recognizing their importance to the story. On the whole I found the audio book most enlightening.

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Amazing insight into depression and anxiety

Amazing insight to how we can help people with depression. Lots of info about studies done in this area. We need the whole community to help. Thanks Johann for looking into this area with much thought and research.
I couldn't stop listening this this book.

8 people found this helpful

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I couldn’t finish

Listened to 2.5 hours of this and thought I was going to fall asleep. Too many statistics thrown out, as much as I appreciate the research no one remembers that many numbers and percentages. Not very inspirational unfortunately

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Well structured and informative

Informative and structured to educate, very important information. The authors checkered credibility weakens the message.

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Challenges a lot of myths...

Great book, really challenges much of our thinking around the major mental health concerns of the day, and cites the research to support it all. A must read.

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Well researched and well presented

I found this book really easy to relate to and the content was very helpful

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  • jaga
  • 07-06-2018

Are we turning the corner....

....on the epidemic of depression and anxiety?

With the number of people afflicted by depression and anxiety ever rising, this title really caught my attention. And while the title may raise hopes (and for some, skepticism), it actually provides an interesting account of Johann Hari’s personal story and his exploration of the causes of and solutions for depression. That may be enough for some to make this book worthwhile, but it actually offers a lot more.

Hari’s finding, primarily based on publicly available research and hundreds of interviews, is that depression / anxiety is more a social phenomenon and less a biological / psychological one (using the bio-psycho-social model generally accepted by most mental health professionals / researchers, he doesn’t get into gut micro-biome, etc). He cites a wide range of research in this regard, such as Robert Sapolsky’s long-term study of baboons, Martin Seligman’s study of the Amish and many, many more. Hari goes on to say that many cases of depression / anxiety are a normal reaction to people’s individual situations and that the current ways of diagnosing depression (e.g., the DSM) and prescribing medication need to be reconsidered. But perhaps the broader message is that the increase in depression / anxiety is based on the way our society has changed. Lots of reasons cited / suggested for why this is the case, but generally, we have become disconnected: from people, nature, our work, our values, and others. Probably not a shocker for most, who experience this in some manner on a daily basis.

Hari goes on to highlight many successful programs / strategies where these connections were re-established and how this improved the overall well being of the individual and in many cases, their larger community. He also broaches the big question of what is, or could be, an anti depressant. In other words, why do so many restrict their definition of anti-depressants to pharmaceuticals?

And while his title may be setting a high bar, the book does not in actuality claim to know all of the real causes and solutions to depression. This is a really difficult subject for most individuals, but also for our society at large. If one approaches it with an open mind (I think I did) there is a great deal of information and perspectives in it which many will find useful.

Many will benefit from reading this book and I recommend you do so.

206 people found this helpful

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  • John Doumar
  • 27-07-2018

lost loved ones to his beliefs be cautious .

the potential for harm at ways any value in reading this book. I have lost too many loved ones to Suicide with what the world might consider ideal circumstances in their life. there is absolutely a percentage of people that require their medication. better book to read would be by Viktor Frankl
be well

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  • Elizabeth
  • 27-01-2018

Must read

For those of us who have experienced depression as a personal crisis, and for all of us who need to recognize it as a public health crisis. Hari is a brilliant investigative journalist (see Chasing the Scream, about addiction) who brings his personal experience, taut and engaging research style, and profound empathy to this widespread but yet hidden malady. The medical and pharmaceutical model of depression is just not supported by the research, and Hari discusses 9 other causes/contexts for understanding depression that are backed by scientific evidence. From the treatment perspective, not much mention of CBT, DBT or mindfulness practice might be a flaw in the book to some. Current practices in psychiatry and psychology are not quite as drug reliant as Hari suggests. But almost. For a book about such a weighty and, yes, depressing topic, it trips along like an adventure story as research findings are tracked down and humane and personable scientists are interviewed. The narration is pleasant, earnest but never harping. Well worth the credit on all counts.

158 people found this helpful

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  • Brett
  • 18-03-2018

Heartfelt, but not convincing

Johann Hari goes in search of why we, as a society, have skyrocketing numbers of people who are depressed or anxious, and are on prescription medication as a result.

The solution is not in medicine, but in restoring our ‘lost connections’. Much if this feels real and commonsensical. But an alarming amount of it seems convenient. He visits a center for obese people and a woman immediately tells him she was raped, and has been obese ever since as a defence mechanism. Another man tells him something very similar. It’s all black and white, cause and effect, and a lot of reads like the worst pop psychology.

It’s very pleasing that Mr Hari appears to have found a solution to his own depression and anxiety. But I was yearning for him to acknowledge that this issue is incredibly complex and won’t necessarily be resolved by people talking to their neighbors or climbing a mountain. That didn’t happen.

220 people found this helpful

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  • Alexis Michael
  • 13-07-2018

Interesting Perspective

The author has an interesting perspective on depression. As someone who has been working with people who struggle with the disorder for years, there was not much new. At times, he would discuss his own frustration with the treatment he received and it seemed as if he wrote the book to say he received bad treatment (which he did). This became tiresome at times.

32 people found this helpful

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  • spark527
  • 08-03-2018

This book is about more than just depression.

this book is full of great information about the causes of depression. But it's also a book with a bigger idea; an idea about changing our society, changing our culture, changing the way we think about the things that we need as human beings and some ideas about how we might be able to put them back into our lives.

60 people found this helpful

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  • Dallas coffman
  • 13-02-2018

I cried

What did you love best about Lost Connections?

How personally familiar I felt with the Author's story. In so many ways we are all the same.

What was one of the most memorable moments of Lost Connections?

When Johann Hari walks us through his experience with losing a child. I've lost twin boys who were very premature and my wife and I three years later still weep on occasion. Hari goes on to ensure us that pain is our connection to their life. We don't want to lose that connection. We don't want to forget their names and their faces. It's human nature to feel sadness after experiencing loss many years after the occurrence despite what DSM thinks.

What about Johann Hari’s performance did you like?

When Johann shares his experience with loss you can almost hear the pain in his voice. It helped me connect with him. Also his narrating voice is spot on and he speaks clearly.

If you were to make a film of this book, what would the tag line be?

Human Nature-A closer look into the human experience

Any additional comments?

Incredible. The words can't describe how thankful I am for Johann to share his story. To share insight. To ask questions and show his findings. And thank you for your podcast with Joe Rogan. Very informative. Thank you.

36 people found this helpful

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  • Colorado Girl
  • 01-03-2018

Pretty good until the last couple of chapters

The author offers some interesting theories as to the causes of depression and what to do about it. Many of them seem to be valid, however I would caution anyone who reads or listens to this book to keep in mind that this information is just one source of information on a very complex subject. Hari feels that antidepressants have been over-prescribed, and that may well be the case. But it should be noted that for some individuals, medication is absolutely necessary and in some cases life-saving. The recommendations that Hari makes with regard to reconnecting with your outside world are all very good suggestions. Where I had the problem was when he started to push his social agenda toward the end of the book stating that if we could just give everybody a guaranteed income that that would somehow solve the depression problem. Seriously?!? That simplistic utopian view was where I felt he went off the rails. He should have kept his social/political views separate from this issue. We already have too much political divide in our lives, and politics may well be a contributor to our overall depressive state these days. Skip the last couple of chapters - the rest of it is ok.

107 people found this helpful

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 27-07-2018

Beware 2ndary gain

Does not present research accurately. Information is presented as scientific but lacks true statistically analysis to describe it as such. This book is far from science and more a book that is trying to present a political point of view but in such a way that is devious like a Trojan horse.

10 people found this helpful

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  • Colton
  • 29-01-2018

Most important book I've ever read/listened to

If you deal with or have dealt with depression I can't recommend this book enough!

10 people found this helpful

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 07-05-2019

Journalist explores his own psychological pain

An interesting attempt to identify some of the economic and social contexts of psychological distress, and to think through ways of creating a world less toxic to our well-being.

However, he does this by setting up straw men to knock down. He makes much of medicine’s belief in a chemical imbalance theory of depression (which will seem alien to most of those who work in the field), whilst also reporting that psychiatrists have for decades proposed alternative models which attend to the person’s social, psychological, and physical situations.

There is a clear association between housing, jobs, environments, politics and mental ill health, but these aren’t things that are easily changed in the surgery or therapy room.

I thought the early section on medication was dreadful. Quite shockingly bad. I can’t see his footnotes on Audible, but he appears to rely entirely on two very critical writers, both interesting and challenging though they are, but without any effort to explore other researchers, other evidence, or other conclusions. That’s polemic, not journalism. He doesn’t even describe the critical literature on the distorting role of drug companies research, not that all research is undertaken by Big Pharma.

Considering this is a book about anxiety and depression, it seems odd that he doesn’t actually define what these highly complicated things might be, except in so far as they may relate to our evolutionary history.

What a mixed up, interesting, disappointing book.

102 people found this helpful

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  • dc
  • 02-08-2018

Well Argued.

In comparison to Chasing the Scream it’s not as interesting a story. However, Johann makes an eloquent argument for changing the way we see and treat depression. Although nothing in this book is particularly new to me (I’m in the healthcare field) he does a good job of pulling the strands together. My only real criticism is he spends too little time directly quoting his interviewees and too much time on his analysis of what they have said. I think it would have been stronger to let their statements speak for themselves the the listener draw their own conclusions.

27 people found this helpful

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  • Andy T
  • 04-10-2018

One mans story

Although a lot of hard graft has gone into this book. And we’re all looking for a simple solution. This book, if taken seriously, will cause some truly ill people a false sense of hope.

It’s concerning that those in a dark period may adhere to the subjective advice and ruin their life.

It’s true, doctors to hand out pills to too many who are not clinically disabled through depression.

Having witnessed a family member commit suicide and her father fighting depression, his medication is keeping him balanced and alive.

One time he had a church tell him he was cured through their prayer meeting. The very next day he was in a police cell due to the consequences of not taking his medication for depression.

The change from the original diagnosis after taking medication enabled him to live a full life. Due to stopping his meds’ he lost his home, wife and children.

Read the book, but please do not put blind faith into one mans misdiagnosis. It’s not an exact science, though it is a life saving one. My brother is still alive today, only because of medical intervention.

I too wrote off big pharma as snake oil. Yet here in England the research by NICE and the university’s is deep and thorough.

The book could cause unintentional and unneeded suffering.

A good support network, though great as it is, everyone has an opinion, everyone reads the latest on the internet, the latest greatest book of the moment. Meanwhile the poor person suffering from depression gets more confused and being vulnerable will try to pleasing everyone’s opinion whilst in internal agony.

It’s an enjoyable read but one mans misdiagnosis has to be seen as a subjective opinion of what the authors bias is.

151 people found this helpful

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  • Bailey Jayne
  • 15-03-2018

Don't buy if you have depression and no support.

Very interesting read, possibly for people trying to understand the disease. But this book has made me more depressed.
The author talks about how you need a support system to help you manage your mental health, so as someone who has no one this book made me feel like I will never recover.

205 people found this helpful

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 16-10-2018

Let down by a very poor last third

I bought this on the recent Audible Deal and thought that it might help with my anxiety and depression.

I enjoyed Part 1 (why anti depressants shouldn't be given as much as they are and don't actually appear to have benefits for most people, but do have side effects) and Part 2 (what are the causes of depression if its not a chemical imbalance and what can we do that might work better). Both parts had scientific research and experts quoted. However, Part 3 (lost connections?) was a pretty rambling, unfocused waffle which went on at great length about a German housing group's issues and other tales (like using psychedelics) which had little - if any - scientific backing for the conclusions he came to. He would tend to have someone say "this could be of benefit" and run with that as though it was the greatest cure even though it was one person's opinion on (usually) one and only one example, the efficacy of which was frequently subjective. By the end of Part 3, I was fed up of listening to Johann and could understand a previous comment about him having a leftist agenda as it felt to me that this part was using very sketchy at best evidence to support his beliefs and world view.

Pros:
Part 1 provided interesting information as to how drug companies have manipulated trial information and the system to get their drugs on the market when they show little benefit but have been shown to cause harm. I found this enlightening.

Part 2 provided a good list of possible social and environmental causes and what you can do to improve your symptoms. I think I will listen to this again.

Part 2 had a lot of direct references by the people he'd interviewed and a lot of facts and figures (as did part 1)
Parts 1 & 2 had a lot of quoted scientific evidence

Cons:
Narrator: Johann Hari shouldn't have narrated this himself. He's not a professional and it shows. At times he was poor and by the end I was sick of his melancholy voice.

Swearing. There wasn't a lot, but why was it needed at all? It might be quoting someone, but it was jarring and really put me off.

Mealtimes: I don't want to know what Johann was eating when he was interviewing someone. Might be his "chummy" writing style but I really don't care about it and it's not why I got the book. He was always saying what he was eating.

Overly Personalised: Some elements (most of Part 3 was guilty of this) were much too personalised and his own journey with AD's coloured his perception too much and biased his opinions too clearly. For instance, there are many side effects to AD's, but he focused on weight gain as it was the major one for him. Not a mention of suicidal or angry mood swings for instance which are much more devastating. I also read this book with no idea who the author was. Part way through Part 3 I was asking myself "what has any of this stuff about a gay bar have to do with depression?" and later wondered what the tale about the guy who wanted gay marriage had to do with it. I now know that he is gay and I guess that's why he felt I needed to know what the gay bar owner's other clubs were called in a book on depression.

CBT: In part 3 in just one sentence he dismisses CBT saying "there isn't any evidence that it is of benefit to people with depression" (or words to that effect), which a very quick and cursory Google shows is utter nonsense. If that was the case, then why does the NHS advocate it? I've just spent a month studying the efficacy of CBT and I know his flippant claim to be untrue and it makes me concerned about the rest of his claims.

Metaphors: At times the metaphors he used made me cringe.

Bookending: The first chapter struck me as irrelevant and I wondered why it was included. I found out at the end of the book it was so he could refer back to a single line in that chapter (listen to your body and don't mask it) at the end. It felt contrived... like too much of the book.

In summary, had I stopped reading the book at the end of part 2, then I would have rated it much higher. Part 3 seemed to be a waste of my life and a fairly desperate attempt to make the points he wanted despite the lack of compelling evidence for his views.

69 people found this helpful

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