Johann Hari presents a challenge to the traditional treatment of Depression and Anxiety. It’s also a great read!
In Johann Hari’s second book he turns his focus to the enormous topic of Depression and Anxiety. It is a book of loosely two halves; in the first he pinpoints nine possible causes and in the second he uses these causes as signposts toward relief from depression and anxiety.
Much like in Hari’s first book Chasing the Scream in which he explored the history of the global drug war, his approach is that of an investigative journalist, taking the reader from interview to interview across the globe in search of new evidence and expert testimony. Hari creates a complex narrative out of his investigation and his writing style is exciting, engaging and accessible.
Early on, it became clear that Hari is presenting a challenge to the traditional view of depression and pharmacological treatment. I can imagine that for someone who has been living with depression for a long period of time and whose main relief comes in the form of daily medication, some of the challenges in this book could present extremely uncomfortable reading. Although Hari does present a relatively open and objective stance there are occasions when his political perspective is overt and again this could be a challenge to a reader who does not share Hari’s political view.
Whenever a new book is published offering a ‘silver bullet’ to a debilitating mental health condition I immediately feel sceptical. Lost Connections does not offer a simple solution. What it does is invite the reader to examine their life from several angles; work, money, friends, nature, self-respect, social media– to list just a few.
Rather than being a text for the anxious or the depressed, this is a book that I would recommend to anyone who is looking to improve the quality of their day-to-day life. Some of the solutions that Hari suggests may be frustratingly grand and perhaps unachievable on an individual level, but it acts as a rallying cry to change some of the long-established structures in society that simply do not serve us as a community.
This is a book that I found engaging and helpful on a personal level. From a professional perspective, it is a text I have recommended to a couple of clients and has been helpful in providing a roadmap toward possible change. There are a lot of books published each year about anxiety and depression and this is by far one of the best that I have read.
Lost Connections by Johann Hari is published by Bloomsbury Publishing (£8.99)