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Lost Connections

Uncovering the Real Causes of Depression - and the Unexpected Solutions
Written by: Johann Hari
Narrated by: Johann Hari
Length: 9 hrs and 20 mins
5 out of 5 stars (299 ratings)

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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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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

life changing and narrated conversationally

life changing and narrated conversationally by the author. everyone should read this. it will change society

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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Much needed new perspective

I got this book on a whim without really knowing what it was about or who the author was and this book is now in my top five list of books that have made a difference to me. The book was appealing to me, both as someone with a psychology education, as well as a long term sufferer of depression.

I loved the journalistic take on the subject. It didn't mimic the "self help" feeling that so many other books on depression tend to embody, with a miracle solution and recipe to achieve that solution. Instead, the author wrote about his journey of trying to understand his depression, through explorations of various theories, as well as interviews with researchers, medical professionals, and others who have struggled with depression. It felt as though the author was presenting his findings and research, not as a way to "convince" the reader to come to the same conclusions as him, but to form their own opinions based on that information.

The book was filled with legitimate scientific research, case studies, and statistics, but was anything but dry. It was engaging, personable, and thought provoking, using a narrative of various characters and their stories to demonstrate the information.

What I got from the book was a fresh perspective on many questions that no one before seemed to be able to answer. If drugs / therapy / whatever, were the answers to depression, why did so many people still have depression after trying those solutions? There seemed to be only two possibilities: either the majority of those with depression should give up hope and do the best they could to live with it, or there was something else - something that could explain the increased rate of depressed individuals in our society; something that could address the issue of why we are depressed, instead of the solutions that are not based on how we got there in the first place.

I greatly recommend this book to anyone, though in my opinion, they shouldn't expect the book to end with a solution that they can go out and start doing as soon as the book is done, in order to fix their life. For me, after finishing the book, I was able to recognize certain situations in a different light, as potentially unhealthy or instigating depressive thinking, and was able to identify healthy behaviours to incorporate. I am profoundly grateful I took a chance on this book.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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Finally a voice of sanity!

This book has changed the way I view the world. For twenty years I've been swallowing an assortment of pills. For the first time I feel there is hope. Everyone should read this book.

5 of 6 people found this review helpful

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Passable beginning, but just too anecdotal

I liked the beginning, where the author questioned and broken down the issues with pharmaceutical treatments regarding depression and anxiety, which is why I gave 2 stars on "Story". But the book then turns into stories after stories of personal experiences, or second hand stories from interviews that I found to be either overly dramatic or dubious. At the very least, the stories just does not seem properly vetted, and it is ridiculous to me that the author drew so much insight and conclusions from singular experiences, many of them were told to the author second-handed. Furthermore, even if these stories are vetted and valid, the author's delivery just appears to be too rushed, especially to insights and conclusions. This just became more and more difficult to listen to, like the author is trying to sell something that he doesn't even believe it. The book became formulaic , with a "One-Two" structure each chapter with a "story" and a "conclusion". And most of these "conclusions" doesn't seem to align with common sense. Admittedly, this is a personal opinion, but overall I wouldn't recommend this to anyone.

3 of 4 people found this review helpful

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Amazing and worth it

Great reading by the author, interesting stories to support the ideas presented as well as the facts to hold the entire thing together with relatable personal experiences for all people.

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If you or yours have depression...

...you should read this. Nothing earth-shattering but Hari really put the information together well and carries the listener well through stories and individual cases and scenarios.

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Everyone should read this book

This book should be put on school reading lists so that teenagers don’t have to wait until they are in their 20’s or 30’s to figure out that they aren’t broken.

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  • Leo
  • 2019-05-14

Perfect for audible.

The book itself is engaging and well written. However, I did find some of the author's argumentation to be inconsistent. He attributes a laundry list of human traits to evolution, but our aversion to relative poverty is purely the result of capitalism.
There is something appealing about having a book narrated by the author. Hari also happens to be a good narrator.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

One of the most important books ever written.

An incredible vision of how depression is caused predominantly by "lost connections" in society. Amazing.

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Modern Insight Into a Modern Plight.

The author explores various causes of depression be they psychological, biological or environmental, with a heaping spoonful of personal experience, case studies and summaries of contemporary expert opinions.

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  • jaga
  • 2018-06-07

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.

153 of 158 people found this review helpful

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  • Elizabeth
  • 2018-01-27

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.

133 of 143 people found this review helpful

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  • Brett
  • 2018-03-18

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.

168 of 184 people found this review helpful

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 2018-08-03

good start to untilmately disappointing finish

this book started with all the right ingredients. beginning with a healthy skepticism for the earlier narrative on depression that deserves to be challenged. However, the author then decided to move from one simple answer to yet another simple answer. And, no surprise, simple answers that he is now totally convinced of happen to align with all of his personal politics. Meanwhile he ignores all the other evidence for other social structures that already exist that provide exactly the kind of relief that he claims we need to follow his political recommendations in order to achieve. though he did research for this project, his search did not go far enough, nor was he open enough to find the truths that were already sitting there in plain sight.

16 of 17 people found this review helpful

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  • Dallas coffman
  • 2018-02-13

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.

27 of 30 people found this review helpful

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  • Colorado Girl
  • 2018-03-01

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.

75 of 85 people found this review helpful

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  • spark527
  • 2018-03-08

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.

40 of 45 people found this review helpful

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  • Jeanna Walters Tronnes
  • 2018-03-07

World-changing ideas

This book is a long overdue shift in the beliefs that we have about depression. Bottom line: Anxiety and depression are vital messages to show us what's wrong in our lives. It's not caused by our "faulty brain chemistry". It's caused by our collective denial of basic human needs. Thank you for writing this book.

25 of 28 people found this review helpful

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  • Elizabeth Vigi
  • 2018-01-29

Best book on anxiety and depression

Why is everyone I know depressed and anxious?! This book spells it out, and makes sense!!!!!!
Tell the world!

18 of 20 people found this review helpful

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  • Alexis Michael
  • 2018-07-13

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.

17 of 19 people found this review helpful