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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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    4 out of 5 stars
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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.

53 of 56 people found this review helpful

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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.

116 of 124 people found this review helpful

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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.

90 of 97 people found this review helpful

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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.

43 of 47 people found this review helpful

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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.

34 of 37 people found this review helpful

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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.

17 of 19 people found this review helpful

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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!

11 of 12 people found this review helpful

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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.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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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.

13 of 15 people found this review helpful

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Good book. Too much personal story for the topic.

There is a great deal to be learned from this book. Especially regarding the insane modern approach to depression. But he strays well into neo-Luddism with some of his stories. Especially the, "noble savage" segment about the native Americans, whose war mortality rate was upward of 25%. Depression is a real problem, but a little perspective is in order. With starvation, war and murder all at all time lows in human history, a return to the bloody past is hardly a recipe for success. But if you ignore this, and focus on the facts, you will learn a lot.

27 of 32 people found this review helpful

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  • Kindle Customer
  • 03-15-18

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.

23 of 25 people found this review helpful

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  • Gillian
  • 02-13-18

#lifechanger 🙏🏻💗🙏🏻💗

After winning my first ever award from Audible (listening to the most books) for my ongoing search to quieten my constant internal chatter by having audible play through the night consistently for the past 1 1/2 years I have finally found the answer to my misery! This book is a must for anyone with a busy & beautiful mind.

15 of 16 people found this review helpful

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  • Annie crabtree
  • 02-04-18

Highly recommended.

I was wary of listening to this book as I am always wary of simplistic “answers” to depression and anxiety. But this was not that. It is a beautifully put together, well researched, considerate and open minded look at anxiety and depression. I found it interesting from an intellectual perspective, enlightening and reassuring from a personal perspective. Highly recommended.

8 of 9 people found this review helpful

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  • Liz Tucker
  • 01-29-18

Brilliant

Well worth a read / listen if you suffer from or have suffered with anxiety and or depression. At some points I felt somewhat despondent because my parameters to change are narrow but I'm glad I perservered. This book gives you hope, a new perspective and something to work with. Fantastic work.

8 of 9 people found this review helpful

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  • Jason
  • 02-08-18

this could and should change the world

thank you Johann for your diligence in putting together such comprehensible picture of the society surrounding depression and anxiety. this book is something everyone should read regardless of how your feel about your life and mental health. there are so many lessons to be learnt from so many of the beautiful stories within it.

7 of 8 people found this review helpful

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  • Konstantinos
  • 02-26-18

life changing

Absolutely mind boggling insights. you might know all that deep down or at an intellectual level but he somehow brings everything together and makes it clearer. thanks Johann.

4 of 5 people found this review helpful

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  • Pipe n Slippers
  • 08-21-18

time to rethink attitudes towards depression

A very good read. I must reiterate this is not a self help guide (but it will cause you to rethink your beliefs) .

The evidence is clear that western Society has to dump the attitude that anxiety and depression can be treated with a pill. Most importantly its not a defect in the individual but a problem (mostly) caused by our culture. Whether you have experienced the problems first hand or not I would recommend you take time to read this. Enlightening and eye opening.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Rebecca
  • 03-25-18

Eye opener, must read

This book is excellent for anyone who has suffered with depression, anxiety or just simply feeling fed up with life. We tend to find something to blame for all that we feel, either the kids, the boss, partners etc and we look for solutions in drugs, drink, over-spending etc with no reward and no break from the cycle. This book is brilliant at raising awareness around personal voyages of discovery and why these are so important to us as individuals and as team players. I love this book, it makes me want to be a better person.

5 of 7 people found this review helpful

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  • Cliente Amazon
  • 01-27-18

fantastic book.

superb again from Johan Hari. well researched, absorbing and eye opening. would recommend to all people, even those who do not suffer with mental illness.

5 of 7 people found this review helpful

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  • miss elizabeth m oldham
  • 01-24-18

A must read!

As a mental health nurse who also experiences depression this has really made me think about both my personal and professional life. A huge eye opener!

11 of 18 people found this review helpful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 02-19-18

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.

8 of 8 people found this review helpful

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  • Sharon
  • 02-08-18

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.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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  • Mike
  • 01-25-18

Johann Does it again

Love the book so much that i will buy it as a paperback too. The content is awesome, great stories. Johanns voice is way too soothing and hard to pay attention to specially when in a noisy environment. sorry johann, i loved your ted talk and interviews but your narration was a bit quiet. That is the only critique i have. Otherwise another masterpiece.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Helen Rowe
  • 09-16-18

Amazing book

This is an amazing book , everyone should listen this; best book ive listened to on audiable.

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  • Bethany
  • 09-13-18

PLEASE LISTEN

If I can only recommend one book in my entire life, it is this one. Light bulb moment after light bulb moment. I wish everyone would read this, it would change the world. Thank you, Johann, with all my heart.

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  • Shelley McConaghy
  • 09-13-18

Spot on

I enjoyed this book for many reasons, but most importantly it confirms my long held theories about how I can support clients in their own journey through depression and anxiety. I loved the storytelling, which really brought salient points to life, to fully illustrate the research findings. I will be recommending this book far and wide.

The only issue I had with the audio was that the sound is quite quiet compared with what I'm used to on Audible.

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  • Kim Williams
  • 09-13-18

loved it

confirms what I've always thought about anxiety and depression... I'm adventurous and life ca change completely for me very quickly 8ll now use this book as a framework to assess what my needs are in new seasons of my life...

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  • Daniel Hofmann
  • 09-09-18

Transformational

If you think you don’t agree or don’t understand with what he’s saying. Keep listening. I think for each individual person out there there will be a different point in the book that you can associate with and understand deeply. This is an amazing book, well researched and put together incredibly well.
Much love to the people of planet earth. X

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  • Fiona
  • 08-30-18

Astounding book

What an astounding book! I am so grateful to have read it and grateful that it was written. Excellent story telling and research. This is a life changer. Wow it will really provide a guide for oneself and for social change in dealing with anxiety, depression and how to live a better life. It’s a book to re-read and process slowly so to integrate some of the lessons into the world. Thank you Johann.

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  • P M CODY
  • 08-22-18

I want EVERYONE to read this book!

Profound, paradigm-shifting, big-picture inquiry into the rising epidemic of anxiety and depression. It is beautifully and poignantly written, and Johann Hari has drawn together insights from a wide range of highly credible sources, together with vivid narratives both from his own life and others, which together create a coherent explanation of where we’ve lost our way, and how we might be able to get back on track. This book is a rich tonic for our very malnourished society. I sincerely hope that it will reach influencers far and wide, and lead to great change. I’ll be doing all I can to make sure that happens!