Lost connections: a cause of depression
Johann Hari has written a very readable book called Lost Connections: Uncovering the real causes of depression and the unexpected solutions (London, Bloomsbury 2018). The book adds a fascinating dimension to the current debate. Hari quotes the United Nations in its official statement for World Health Day in 2017 “the dominant biomedical narrative of depression” is based on “biased and selective use of research outcomes”. We need to move from “focusing on chemical imbalanced to focusing on ‘power imbalances’”. Hari argues that the causes of depression are primarily environmental and has a range of nine different causes including the following two:
Loss of meaningful work. With the loss of crafts and the rise of the gig economy we have become disconnected from meaningful work. A classic contemporary example being the reported conditions and relentless pressures of working in an Amazon fulfilment centre. The solution is for employees and businesses to design jobs that provide immediate feedback on the results they achieve, where the employee serves a customer directly, where new learning is always possible and where they can schedule at least part of their own work timetable.
Loss of social connection. There are authoritative warnings that disconnection from other people and loneliness are becoming a greater public health threat than obesity. Part of the cause is the growing use of social media. Which while this can help us stay connected with friends and family yet spending too much time on social media can make people feel more lonely and inadequate compared to the wonderful lifestyles portrayed. The solution is spend more time in face-to-face contact with friends and family as well as spending more time being kind and caring towards others.
It’s an intriguing book that is well worth the read if you want to understand more of the debate about anxiety and depression.
Iain McCormick - Executive Coaching Centre - 021575449