Lost connections by Johann Hari

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 anti-depressants 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.

That’s why he did something no scientist in this field had done with really obese people before . He stopped telling them what to do — and started listening to them instead .

“What we had perceived as the problem — major obesity — was in fact, very frequently, the solution to problems that the rest of us knew nothing about.”

turned out people treating obesity had noticed before that a disproportionate number of obese people described being abused . They just assumed that they were making excuses.

depression is a normal response to abnormal life experiences.

The belief that it all comes down to biology protects you, in a way, for a while.

Psychological damage doesn’t have to be as extreme as childhood violence to affect you profoundly.

The more unequal your society , the more prevalent all forms of mental illness are.

It strongly suggested that something about inequality seems to be driving up depression and anxiety.

We’ll lower our heads and our bodies and silently say: Leave me alone. You beat me. I can’t take this any more.

“We had to find a way to speak … that everyone could understand. That forced us — me — to think about what I wanted to say, not to take refuge in some well - formulated phrases that in the end don’t say anything at all.”

We say we’re a democracy , but people are so far removed from the concept.


So I told myself: if you hear a thought in your head telling you that we can’t deal with the social causes of depression and anxiety, you should stop and realize—that’s a symptom of the depression and anxiety itself.

Depression and anxiety have three kinds of causes—biological, psychological, and social. They are all real, and none of these three can be described by something as crude as the idea of a chemical imbalance.

Version of the book

Hari, Johann. Lost Connections (p. 309). Bloomsbury Publishing. Kindle Edition.