We sat down with Johann Hari, Cambridge social scientist, and New York Times best-selling author of Lost Connections: Uncovering the Real Causes of Depression & the Unexpected Solutions.

Photo credit: Kathrin Baumbach

Johann Hari

Author, Social Scientist

Johann holds a double first in social and political science from Cambridge University. He has written two New York Times best-selling books; Chasing the Scream and Lost Connections. He has also written extensively for The Independent, the New York Times and the Sydney Morning Herald. Johann is the youngest recipient of the Orwell prize for political journalism and his 2015 TED talk entitled ‘Everything you think you know about addiction is wrong’ has reached over 10 million viewers.

Johann’s story of depression


Depression is a topic deeply personal to Johann. When he was a teenager, he went to his doctor and explained that he felt like pain was leaking out of him. A pain he couldn’t control, nor understand. After many years of receiving higher and higher doses of antidepressants, and 13 years of taking the maximum dose allowed, Johann remained in pain.

Eventually the pain was too much so he decided to go on a journey in search of other solutions to alleviate how he felt.

Travelling over 70,000 kilometres in three years, Johann went on a journey across the world where he interviewed leading scientific experts about the causes and solutions to depression


Along the way, he learned there is scientific evidence for nine different causes of depression. While two of these causes are biological, the rest Johann discovered were related to social and personal disconnection.

The other causes of depression include:

  • Disconnection from others
  • Disconnection from childhood trauma
  • Disconnection from meaningful work
  • Disconnection from meaningful values
  • Disconnection from status
  • Disconnection from a hopeful future
  • Disconnection from nature

The result of this journey is Johann’s book, Lost Connections.

Exclusive HotDoc interview


To share more about his story and the launch of Lost Connections, Johann dropped by the HotDoc office to talk in-depth about two of the leading causes of depression: loneliness and childhood trauma (below). We also asked him if he had a message for doctors treating people suffering from depression (featured above).

Cause 1: How loneliness affects depression

Cause 2: How childhood trauma affects depression

If you enjoyed these videos we suggest you pick up a copy of Lost Connections. 

About Lost Connections


Lost Connections hit shelves earlier this year and became a best-seller in the United States, Britain, Canada and Australia almost overnight.

The book has been praised by dozens of noteworthy people – from Elton John to Oprah, Hillary Clinton to Pulitzer Prize winner Glenn Greenwald, and by some of the most prominent mental health experts in the UK and Australia


As mentioned, Lost Connections hinges its focus on the topic of depression. An issue that’s becoming more and more prevalent in the modern world. Just pick up RACGP’s 2018 Health of a Nation Report and we can see that a whopping 62% of patients talk to their doctor about psychological issues, making mental health more widespread than any other health issue.

It’s no surprise the book has fared so well. It’s a riveting read, fusing world-class storytelling with deeply personal stories and robust scientific evidence. It also hones in on a topic deeply personal to many of us. 

As Johann describes, “One of the things I know from the response to my book is that people are so hungry for deeper insights. They’re not frightened of them, and they know at some level that what they’ve been told about depression is too simplistic”.

The book also offers some thought-out solutions to depression from some of the world’s leading health experts. These solutions range from social prescribing to providing more support to distressed families, from getting out into nature more often to learning how to spot and eradicate junk values.

Need help with depression?


Here are some helpful resources.

We also suggest you pick up a copy of Lost Connections.