In his most recent book, Lost Connections, Johann Hari shares his own personal journey in the treatment of his depression and anxiety. He had been prescribed several anti-depressants from age 18. This was necessary, he was told, because of a chemical imbalance in his brain that the medications could treat.
When he was 31 Hari came to a personal crisis that led him to investigate the veracity of his doctor’s chemical imbalance
assumption. This research led him to question the effectiveness of the medications and to wonder about alternative research into other causes of depression and anxiety. Finally, his investigation explored current research into causes, treatments and potential solutions.
His conclusions strike a familiar chord for marriage and family therapists because of the emphasis upon interpersonal, relational systems.
DEPRESSION, ANXIETY AND FAMILY SYSTEMS
Marriage and family therapy is at the front lines of helping individuals, couples and families wrestle with mental and emotional health issues. Depression and anxiety are influenced by life-cycle stressors, social interactions, familial relationships and communication patterns.
Hence, a value of this book to people who struggle with depression and anxiety is that it encourages the reader to explore options that may have been significant contributing factors. In addition, there are other options for treatment that very closely align with familiar marriage and family approaches. Finally, the simple listing of chapter headings reveals familiar Christian teaching, in spite of the fact that the author himself is an atheist.
CAUSES OF DEPRESSION AND ANXIETY
Below is a list of the book’s chapters under the theme of “Disconnection” as Part II.
- Disconnection from Meaningful Work
- Disconnection from Other People
- Disconnection from Meaningful Values
- Disconnections from Childhood Trauma
- Disconnection from Status and Respect
- Disconnection from the Natural World
- Disconnection from a Hopeful or Secure Future
- The Real Role of Genes and Brain Changes
RESISTING DEPRESSION & ANXIETY
Conversely, if the problem is disconnection, it only makes sense that the ingredients for successful coping with depression and anxiety would be “Reconnection”. This is the theme of Part III of the book.
- Reconnection to Other People
- Reconnection and Social Prescribing
- Reconnection and Meaningful Work
- Reconnection to Meaningful Values
- Reconnection with Sympathetic Joy and Overcoming the Addition to the Self
- Reconnection by Acknowledging and Overcoming Childhood Trauma
- Reconnection by Restoring the Future
While each person must make their own choices about their own history and treatment for depression and anxiety Hari does provide a rich list of alternatives to consider. While medications are a matter for patients to consider with their doctor, it just makes sense that a broader strategic approach to common mental health matters may increase the likelihood for relief.
Hari, Johann. Lost Connections: Uncovering the Real Causes of Depression–and the Unexpected Solutions, 2018.