We've been told for a long time that depression and anxiety are purely matters of brain chemistry: fix the brain chemistry and like magic, those conditions should disappear.
The only problem is, more often than not, it doesn't work that way.
In Lost Connections, Johann Hari explores the emerging science and psychology behind a whole new understanding of depression, anxiety, and related conditions. It turns out, not surprisingly, that a major component of these types of issues has to do with our loss of connections: with nature, with each other, with meaning and purpose and a sense of being valued.
I wasn't at all surprised by most of the information Hari presents - it feels like common sense. I was surprised by the fact that there is now science to back it up, and more medical professionals are taking note of the science.
So how do we fix these lost connections? Hari offers some suggestions, but if we're honest, they're just band-aids to alleviate the worst of the problems for the short term. What we really need is major systemic change on many different levels in modern culture.
Of course, we already knew that.
Still, the information in this book gives us more tools in the toolbox, more ways to think about what's broken and how we might go about fixing it - and what the long-term benefits might be for all of us, even those who haven't been diagnosed with depression or anxiety.
So it's definitely worth the read. Ironically (or perhaps not), discovering some solid information about these underlying causes of depression feels like a little bit of the depression is lifting. We're not out of the woods yet, but we can see the path.
Now all we have to do is choose to walk down it - together.