I recently read a book review in the October 2020 issue of The Townsend Letter about “Lost Connections: Why You’re Depressed and How to Find Hope” by Johann Hari, which inspired me to order, read and share a new perspective.

It seemed a very apropos choice as the shortest hours of daylight approach which trigger many of us at this latitude to be impacted by seasonal affective disorder – at least to some degree.

To add insult to injury, the ongoing uncertainty of COVID-19 and the divisive political unrest is also causing more people to struggle with anxiety and/or depression and is worsening the severity for others who already suffer from mood disorders.

The author divides the book into three sections. In the first section, Hari shares his personal story with depression as he dispels the theory that depression is caused by chemical imbalance. He provides a compelling discourse to encourage the reader to question the scientific validity of the current drug management of depression and anxiety.

He states, “The false story is the claim that depression is caused by a chemical imbalance in the brain and that the primary solution for most people is a chemical antidepressant. That story has made Big Pharma over $100 billion, which is one of the crucial reasons why it persists.”

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In section two, he discusses the seven disconnections (meaningful work, other people, meaningful values, childhood trauma, status & respect, natural world, hopeful or secure future) and explains why these disconnections contribute to depression and anxiety. Hari also explores the role of genes and brain changes.

In section three, Hari provides hope and insight on how to reconnect as a different form of antidepressant therapy.

  • Reconnection #1 to other people. Try to do something for someone else, interact with other people, be truly present with the people you love.

  • Reconnection #2 social prescribing. Hari gives examples of different managed and supported social programs.

  • Reconnection #3 to meaningful work. Hari discusses democratized workplaces and explains that it is important for people to have a say over what they spend most of their life doing.

  • Reconnection #4 to meaningful values. Develop and foster intrinsic values and get rid of junk values; reconnect with what really matters.

  • Reconnection #5 sympathetic joy and overcoming addiction to the self. Implement loving-kindness meditation.

  • Reconnection #6 acknowledging and overcoming childhood trauma. Release the shame from being mistreated.

  • Reconnection #7 restoring the future. Guaranteed/universal basic income.

In summary, Hari states that depression and anxiety have three causes: biological, psychological and social. We need to address the social and psychological causes and start focusing on power imbalances instead of chemical ones.

We are suffering from a social and spiritual imbalance in how we live; your biology can make the distress worse. The depression and/or anxiety is the alert message that something is wrong and can be the catalyst to help guide you to make the changes toward a more fulfilling life that will meet your needs. Depression is a form of grief for all the connections we need, and this empowering book offers some tools on how to find your way.

Rachel Oppitz has lived in Park Rapids with her husband, daughter and dog since 2006. She is a naturopathic doctor and owns Itasca Naturopathic Clinic in Park Rapids and Bemidji. In her spare time, she loves to read, workout with friends, play games, do jigsaw puzzles, camp, hike, bike, canoe, travel, do guided meditations on Insight Timer, try new recipes, listen to music and journal.