Lost Connections Book Summary - Lost Connections Book explained in key points
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Lost Connections summary

Johann Hari

Uncovering the Real Causes of Depression – and the Unexpected Solutions

4.6 (344 ratings)
32 mins

Brief summary

Lost Connections by Johann Hari is a non-fiction book that explores the causes of depression and anxiety beyond biological factors. It argues that re-establishing human connections is crucial in combating these mental health issues.

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    Lost Connections
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    Contrary to claims made by pharmaceutical corporations, depression is not the result of a chemical imbalance.

    The author, Johann Hari, was 18 years old when he took his first antidepressant medication, but by this time he’d already had years of experience with depression.

    Even as a young child, Hari had his fair share of moments alone in a room, weeping uncontrollably. He came to understand that he was experiencing the symptoms of depression. When he went to his doctor for treatment, his doctor explained that the cause of depression is a chemical imbalance in the brain, which can be alleviated with prescription antidepressants.

    For Hari, this meant taking Paxil, one of many drugs on the market classified as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), which claim to raise a person’s serotonin levels to that of a “normal,” non-depressed person.

    Like many patients taking SSRIs for the first time, Hari experienced some initial relief, but it didn’t last long. So his doctor upped the dosage, leading to another period of relief followed by a relapse into depression and yet another increase in the dosage.

    One thing Hari could be sure about was that Paxil was causing him to gain weight and sweat more than usual. Eventually, in his 30s, Hari was faced with the truth: After over a decade of Paxil, he was still depressed. Following this realization, he embarked on an extensive period of research on the topic of depression and antidepressants, and what he discovered was truly shocking.

    After speaking to a number of researchers, Hari found that there was little evidence to support the claim that a chemical imbalance causes depression, or that SSRIs are an effective treatment for everyone suffering with depression.

    In the mid-90s, Harvard professor Irving Kirsch began taking a close look at the research on antidepressants. What he found was that the clinical tests being published by pharmaceutical companies were routinely skewed in order to get their medications released.

    During the clinical testing for Prozac, for example, 245 patients were tested. But in the published results, only the 27 patients that experienced positive results were mentioned. As for Paxil, the unedited results of one clinical test showed that patients responded better to the placebo than to the actual medication.

    Kirsch also researched the claims of a link between depression and the neurochemical serotonin. He found the connection to be an “accident of history” whereby scientists had misinterpreted findings and pharmaceutical companies had latched onto this misinformation to sell drugs.

    As the University of London professor Joanna Moncrieff told Hari, when it comes to anxious and depressed brains, “There’s no evidence that there’s a chemical imbalance.”

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    What is Lost Connections about?

    Lost Connections (2018) takes you on a historical and scientific journey that dispels many of the lingering myths surrounding depression and the reasons it touches so many of us. Along the way, author Johann Hari introduces readers to the cutting-edge advancements being made by those looking into new solutions for depression and anxiety.

    Lost Connections Review

    Lost Connections (2018) by Johann Hari delves into the underlying causes of depression and anxiety in our modern world, offering a fresh perspective on mental health. Here's why this book is a must-read:

    • With in-depth research and personal stories, it challenges conventional thinking on mental health, providing a nuanced understanding of the root causes of depression and anxiety.
    • By exploring the social and environmental factors that contribute to these conditions, the book offers hope and practical solutions to reconnect with ourselves and others.
    • Its refreshing honesty and unconventional approach make it an engaging and thought-provoking read, shedding light on a topic that affects so many of us.

    Best quote from Lost Connections

    The [pharmaceutical industry] is just sick and bought and corrupted, and I cant describe it otherwise. – Professor John Ioannidis, Stanford University

    —Johann Hari
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    Who should read Lost Connections?

    • Students of psychology, mental health and social work
    • Readers experiencing depression and eager for solutions
    • Friends and loved ones of those with depression or anxiety

    About the Author

    Johann Hari is the New York Times best-selling author of Chasing the Scream (2015). He’s also well known for his TED Talk, “Everything You Think You Know About Addiction Is Wrong.”

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    Lost Connections FAQs 

    What is the main message of Lost Connections?

    Lost Connections explores the societal factors contributing to depression and offers alternative solutions beyond medication.

    How long does it take to read Lost Connections?

    The reading time for Lost Connections depends on the individual's reading speed. However, you can read the Blinkist summary in just 15 minutes.

    Is Lost Connections a good book? Is it worth reading?

    Lost Connections is a thought-provoking book that challenges our understanding of mental health. It offers valuable insights into the complex nature of depression and provides hope for meaningful change.

    Who is the author of Lost Connections?

    The author of Lost Connections is Johann Hari.

    What to read after Lost Connections?

    If you're wondering what to read next after Lost Connections, here are some recommendations we suggest:
    • Eat to Beat Depression and Anxiety by Drew Ramsey
    • Good Reasons for Bad Feelings by Randolph M. Nesse
    • The Comfort Book by Matt Haig
    • Rise from Darkness by Kristian Hall
    • Stolen Focus by Johann Hari
    • The Untethered Soul by Michael A. Singer
    • A Really Good Day by Ayelet Waldman
    • Chasing the Scream by Johann Hari
    • The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle
    • Think Again by Adam Grant