Depression – the New Findings

The recent best-selling book by investigative journalist Johann HARI, “Lost Connections: Uncovering the Real Causes of Depression – and the Unexpected Solutions” (Bloomsbury, London, 2018; website takes us on a fascinating journey to the new findings about depression.

HARI interviewed in great depth the highest-level experts in this field, as he sought for his own depression a meaning he had not found with the psychiatrists who listened passively to his lamentations and prescribed to him a series of antidepressant drugs. He writes authentic personal stories and touching excerpts about his interviews of scientists, patients, friends and acquaintances living their 21st-century lives close to ours.

The seven real causes that he very powerfully and convincingly narrates, are seven disconnections : from meaningful work, from other people, from meaningful values; from childhood trauma; from status and respect; from the natural world; from a secure future. He also weighs the role of genes and the significance of the brain changes shown by imaging techniques, and shows how these factors are of limited help in understanding and acting on depression.

The solutions are seven re-connections. In these chapters of his book, HARI renders certain psychotherapy concepts, tools and techniques very real and approachable for any reader. The title of one of the most inspiring chapters on re-connections is “Sympathetic Joy, and Overcoming Addiction to the Self”; addiction to the self refers to the huge, omnipresent individualism and prevalent narcissism which our societies imprint in us, producing hidden envy and a strong tendency to have merely “functional” interactions with others … including in many of the couples who we see for coaching or therapy. Being “functional” is useful for superficial “efficiency” but it sets up subtle barriers to genuine, nourishing connection between the 2 partners and renders their relationship brittle, therefore prone to disproportionately big fights over small everyday frictions.