My review could only cover a few of my notes from Lost Connections by Johann Hari. Here is the full set:
“You need your nausea, it is a message, it will tell us what’s wrong with you”.
Back then the answer was that depression was a malfunction in the brain. Lack of serotonin.
Cure: anti depressants SSRIs.
Side effect: you getting fat and sweaty.
Back in his youth. His family was unusual because they took pills. Nowadays everyone does it!
Björn comment: I was for the first time, since I was 15, chemically naked this year. Having quit both caffein and nicotine.
Depression and anxiety is very similar and often overlap.
Unhappiness and depression is not the same thing. Don’t say “cheer up!”
“If you expect it to work, for many of us, it will work”
The placebo effect could help almost any medical issue to some degree.
Publication bias: companies (who often finance studies) only publish the papers that make their product look good. Just like when you take selfies, you take several of them and discard all the ones with double chins and post the one where you look ace!
Effects of antidepressants are questionable but the side effects are real!
The drugs he evangelized as a teen wasn’t working and the company was later sued.
There is not much proof that low serotonin levels. Or if serotonin has anything to do with it.
Most popular book about anti depressants: “Listening to Prozac”.
Grief and depression has the same symptoms. Therefor, for a long time there was something called the “Grief exception” when it comes to diagnosing depression. But the time span for that exception has been made shorter and shorter and now it’s non existent.
Studies show that depression is in fact to a significant degree a problem not with your brain but with you you life.
Long term stress and bad events cause depression. Especially a combination of the two.
Depression has three types of cause: biological, social and psychological, this is known as the biopsychosocial- model.
1. Disconnection from meaningful work.
(Connects to Harari idea of meaningful pursuit)
Gallup 2011-2012: 13 percent is engaged in their work. 63 not engaged: Sleepwalking through the day. 23 percent are actively disengaged: busy acting out their unhappiness. Undermine their engaged colleagues.
The higher you are in the herachy the less likely you are to be depressed.
Control is important.
Disempowerment is at the heart of poor health.
2. Disconnection from other people.
Loneliness cause you cholesterol levels to sore.
“Being deeply lonely causes as much stress as being punched by a stranger”
Highly connected people get sick less.
Almost everything becomes more fatal when you are alone: cancer, heart disease, spiritual problems.
Obesity and loneliness are as deadly.
The lonely people are also Anxious , pessimistic , low self esteem and afraid other people will dislike them.
Loneliness usually comes first.
Björns comment: this is what we are doing to our old people…
As hunter gatherers we only made sense as a group.
Stress and anxiety caused by being alone pushed people back to the group (and increased survival odds for the group and the individual)
In a survey: nowadays it’s more common to have zero friends than any other option.
Being lonely and feeling lonely are not the same thing. Feeling lonely is the problem. You need to connect mutually. “It’s the sense that you are not sharing anything that matters with anyone else”.
Anxious and depressed people are prone to internet and gaming addiction. Escaping depression through distraction.
Games have Guilds and team, clear goals, control.
3. Disconnection from meaningful values
The more people value things, the more likely they are to be depressed.
Intrinsic vs. extrinsic values
4. Disconnected from childhood trauma.
Benefits of being obese:
1. Sexually protective
2. Physically protective (prison guards)
3. Reduce people’s expectations of you. You become invisible to humanity is some sense.
Being treated cruel by your parents is the biggest driver of depression out of all childhood traumas.
5. Disconnection from status and respect.
Stress levels are high when ones Status is threatened or low.
The author References the work by Robert Sapolsky.
Status insecurity might be a big culprit.
High inequality = high depression rates.
Even out hierarchies might be a good idea. Today’s world is more unequal than ever.
6. Disconnection from the natural world.
Moving is natural to us. That’s why exercise makes us happy.
Spending time in nature is good for us. We can concentrate better.
7. Disconnection from a hopeful and secure future.
A larger framework for of significance.
Depressed people don’t have a sense of the future. They have a loss of future.
Insecure work create insecure people. 1 day contracts or no contract.. gig economy, not too glamorous for everyone.
8 & 9 :The real role of genes and brain changes.
Neuroplasticity : the brain changes depending how you use it. It’s the tendency for the brain to restructure itself after experience.
Genetics plays a role, but is not staring the show.
The caviat is that genes linked to depression can be triggered by certain environments. Your gene makes you more vulnerable but they don’t control your destiny.
Instead of diagnosing depression – diagnose disconnection?
Rumspringer: Amish 16 year olds spend ~2 years in regular society not needing to follow Amish rules. 80 percent come back. Coming back is voluntary, therefore Amish is not considered a cult.
“Chosen slowness ”
Amish is like a support group for resisting individualism. What weight watchers is for resisting snacking – the amish is resisting individualism.
Reconnect by voluntary programs and clubs.
Bjorns comment: For me it was toastmasters. Different people, common goal.
But depressed people cant do it on their own. It has to be prescribed. Someone need to help them get there. The depressed person just won’t do it by their own.
Top down organizations make the people low in the hierarchy depressed. They feel like cogs in the wheels and without control or influence.
Kids crave stuff… it hurts not to get them.
Björn comment: I dislike some of the solutions. It takes a stand that we are victims of advertisement etc.. well, kids might be. But should adults be able to handle that?
Envy and scarcity- another cause of depression.
‘Sympathetic joy technique’
Björns comment: It sometimes feel the book is written for someone who is depressed. Some Solution and causes can seem very obvious for someone who is not depressed or anxious; like being able to feel joy for other people’s success etc.
Meditation can be very beneficial to combat depression.
Loving kindness meditation.
Experience with LSD.
80 percent that was given the big dose of LSD said to have better relationships, more compassionate and more positive attitudes about themselves and about life. Just like people that meditate a lot!
Researcher gave psychedelic drugs to people that had struggled to quit smoking. 80% where smoke free 6 months after the test.
What does the psycadelics and feel meditation have in common:
“They both break our addiction to ourself”
Smoking becomes quite petty in the perspective of the whole.
Being free from the ego, for 25% of the testers, was terrifying!
“To people who feel safe only behind walls, dismantling them won’t feel like a jailbreak, it will feel like an invasion”
Experiments: doctors where asked to acknowledge a patients childhood trauma, with compassion, and listen without judgement if the patient wanted to talk about it.
This made a huge difference! Reduced shame. “A secular version of confession”
Shame makes you sick. Sealing of a part of yourself and thinking it’s disgusting is toxic to life
Universal income: started in late 70:s. Small town I Canada.
The poorer you are the more likely you are to become depressed and anxious. and to become sick.
Less mood disorder under universal basic income.
People have a secure future, companies need to incentivize people more to work with benefits etc. people felt like they had a choice.
What?! Just give out money?
ADHD was much lower because people spend more time connecting to their kids.
We can leave deadening jobs under universal basic income.
Book tip about gay marriage: ‘Virtually normal’
“The weekend” was mocked as an utopian idea when labour unions started to fight for it!
Universal basic income is possible.
Having fulfilling work is seen as a freak strike of luck, like winning the lottery.
“You are not a machine with broken parts you are an animal whose need have not been met.”
That’s it! Sounds cool? If you want more you can get the book right here! Also, don’t forget to check out more great reads at in my book lists.