Hari’s book comes with some impressive endorsements from the likes of Elton John, Hilary Clinton and Naomi Klein so adding my own seems somewhat pointless. However, unabashed I forge on – this is an excellently constructed, thought provoking and necessary book. As someone who has been relying on Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs, antidepressants) for the best part of the last three decades (there it is…I’m out of the closet), Lost Connections shocked me.
Hari recently spoke to a packed audience in Adelaide. He spoke engagingly and with generosity – I joked to the woman sitting next to me that we got two hours’ worth of “talk” for the price of one. He had a lot to say!
Hari elegantly synthesises all the best research and detailed discussions with experts in the field of depression and anxiety. Ultimately, the book challenges the prevailing medical dogma that depression and anxiety are caused, not by life’s circumstances, but by a chemical imbalance in the brain that can be “fixed” by adjusting that balance with SSRIs or other medications. If that were the case, Hari wonders, then why do the clear majority of people (including himself) taking SSRIs not feel better. Down the rabbit hole he plunges.
Lost Connections is not an outright rejection of medicating depression and anxiety yet he does point out the drug companies’ complicity in keeping the antidepressant industry robust – the predicted worth of the industry in 2020 is USD$16.8 billion (click on the button below to find out more). Hari’s exploration is deeper than that. He examines nine causes of depression and anxiety, all of which relate to disconnection – disconnection from meaningful work, from other people (loneliness) and from meaningful values (replaced with, what Hari terms “junk values”) and from childhood trauma, to name a few. He then looks at some different and successful treatments for depression and anxiety and proposes some solutions.