Q&A with Johann Hari: Uncovering the Real Causes of Depression

Social Scientist and Author of Lost Connections

Johann’s story of depression

Depression is a topic deeply personal to Johann. When he was a teenager, he went to his doctor and explained that he felt like pain was leaking out of him. A pain he couldn’t control, nor understand. After many years of receiving higher and higher doses of antidepressants, and 13 years of taking the maximum dose allowed, Johann remained in pain.

Eventually the pain was too much so he decided to go on a journey in search of other solutions to alleviate how he felt.

Travelling over 70,000 kilometres in three years, Johann went on a journey across the world where he interviewed leading scientific experts about the causes and solutions to depression.

Along the way, he learned there is scientific evidence for nine different causes of depression. While two of these causes are biological, the rest Johann discovered were related to social and personal disconnection.

The other causes of depression include:

  • Disconnection from others
  • Disconnection from childhood trauma
  • Disconnection from meaningful work
  • Disconnection from meaningful values
  • Disconnection from status
  • Disconnection from a hopeful future
  • Disconnection from nature

The result of this journey is Johann’s book, Lost Connections.

Exclusive HotDoc interview

To share more about his story and the launch of Lost Connections, Johann dropped by the HotDoc office to talk in-depth about two of the leading causes of depression: loneliness and childhood trauma (below). We also asked him if he had a message for doctors treating people suffering from depression (featured above).

How loneliness affects depression

How childhood trauma affects depression

About Lost Connections

Lost Connections hit shelves earlier this year and became a best-seller in the United States, Britain, Canada and Australia almost overnight.

The book has been praised by dozens of noteworthy people – from Elton John to Oprah, Hillary Clinton to Pulitzer Prize winner Glenn Greenwald, and by some of the most prominent mental health experts in the UK and Australia.

As mentioned, Lost Connections hinges its focus on the topic of depression. An issue that’s becoming more and more prevalent in the modern world. Just pick up RACGP’s 2018 Health of a Nation Report and we can see that a whopping 62% of patients talk to their doctor about psychological issues, making mental health more widespread than any other health issue.

It’s no surprise the book has fared so well. It’s a riveting read, fusing world-class storytelling with deeply personal stories and robust scientific evidence. It also hones in on a topic deeply personal to many of us. 

As Johann describes, “One of the things I know from the response to my book is that people are so hungry for deeper insights. They’re not frightened of them, and they know at some level that what they’ve been told about depression is too simplistic.”

The book also offers some thought-out solutions to depression from some of the world’s leading health experts. These solutions range from social prescribing to providing more support to distressed families, from getting out into nature more often to learning how to spot and eradicate junk values.

Need help with depression?

Here are some helpful resources.

We also suggest you pick up a copy of Lost Connections.

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