I don’t struggle with depression. But sadly, I know lots of people that do.
Half a lifetime ago, it nearly got the better of me.
And then, suddenly, it went.
It is foolish to deny that the 21st-century western world has a problem with anxiety and depression. It would be equally silly to trivialise and oversimplify the issues. Over the last six months, I’ve been trying to gain a better understanding of this complex subject. However, I still feel that I’m at the beginnings of this journey towards deciphering depression. As a result, this will probably not be my only post on the matter. One of the best books I’ve read on the subject, and indeed, all year, is “Lost Connections” by Johann Hari. I highly reccommend it. It’s worth talking about.
**A quick disclaimer. I’m sharing some of the author’s insights in very short form. These thoughts are intended to catalyse discussion, not provide a magic elixir to solve the issues. **
As a journalist who has spent over a decade on antidepressants, Hari’s most surprising discovery is the deeply troubling over-dependence on medication to attempt “fix” depression. He concludes that:
“It is foolish to deny there is a real biological component to depression and anxiety (and there may be other biological contributions we haven’t identified yet)—but it is equally foolish to say they are the only causes.”
Of course, he isn’t refuting the effects of antidepressants entirely, but with thorough research, he reminds us that medication treats only the symptoms and not the all-important root cause of depression and anxiety itself. One researcher described it as “like putting a Band-Aid on an amputated limb”.
You no doubt know this already. I’m just catching up.
After several years of study, Hari believes that the principal cause of depression comes from connection, or lack thereof. He offers nine causes (and stresses that there may be others, and that not everyone will find each of these factors in their lives):
- Disconnection from meaningful work
- Disconnection from other people
- Disconnection from meaningful values
- Disconnection from childhood trauma
- Disconnection from status and respect
- Disconnection from the natural world
- Disconnection from a hopeful or secure future
8&9. The real role of genes and brain changes
Based on my own studies, it really does seem that disconnection in some way, shape or form is profoundly damaging to not just our lives, but to our cultural landscape. As I mentioned in my post on Digital Minimalism, relationships are drastically changing in the increasingly cyber world in which we live. Communities are decaying; work is transforming; trigger warnings are increasing; self-worth decreasing.
Something is not right.
But there’s good news. There is hope in connection. And connection is something we can really dig into in future posts. This is not a Band-Aid on an amputation and it’s not a detailed map to a new way. It’s a sign-post at the beginning of a long road to connection.
INTERESTED IN LEARNING MORE ABOUT CONNECTION? I’VE FOUND THESE BOOKS VERY HELPFUL: