May 24, 2021

A fresh look at depression: Lost Connections by Johann Hari

 "You aren't a machine with broken parts. You are an animal whose needs are not being met. You need to have a community. You need to have meaningful values, not the junk values you've been pumped full of all your life, telling you happiness comes through money and buying objects. You need to have meaningful work. You need the natural world. You need to feel you are respected. You need a secure future... All these depressed and anxious people, all over the world - they are giving us a message. They are telling us something has gone wrong with the way we live. We need to stop trying to muffle or silence or pathologize that pain. Instead, we need to listen to it, and honor it. It is only when we listen to our pain that we can follow it back to its source - and only there, when we can see its true causes, can we begin to overcome it." 

This book is a magnificent call to arms to build a society that nourishes the human potential of every one of us. Hari slightly overstates the case against antidepressants and medicalized approaches to depression, but I think he is essentially right - most of our focus should be rallying around distressed people and helping them build lives of connection, purpose, security, love, and health (sleep and exercise especially). If someone you love suffers from depression, I heartily recommend this book and this prescription.

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