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Uncovering the Real Causes of Depression with Johann Hari PART 1

by Dr. Rangan Chatterjee   /  February 27, 2019

CAUTION ADVISED: this podcast contains swearing and themes of an adult nature.

For the past few decades, almost every year, levels of depression and anxiety have increased in Britain and across the Western world. But why? One of the most important voices in this area, Johann Hari, went on a forty-thousand-mile journey across the world to interview the leading experts about what causes depression and anxiety, and what solves them. He shares the fascinating findings of his research in this week’s podcast. Johann explains that although we have been told a story that drugs are the solution to depression and anxiety, in many cases, the cause is not in our biology but in the way we live. He argues that being depressed or anxious does not mean that you are crazy, weak or broken, rather, that your natural psychological needs are not being met. And it’s hardly surprising – we are the loneliest society there has ever been. We discuss how loneliness affects us and how social prescribing can transform lives. We delve into the role trauma plays and how shame is both physically and emotionally destructive. Johann believes that societal values have been corrupted and explains the effect that this is having on our health. Finally, we talk about the role of the workplace and how having autonomy and choices can reduce the likelihood of depression and anxiety. This is a gripping conversation and Johann’s anecdotes are truly captivating – I hope you enjoy it!

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Episode Highlights:

  • Link to PART 2
  • How did Johann’s depression lead him to writing Lost Connections?
  • What has Johann learned about loneliness in today’s society?
  • Hear about social prescribing and how this has successfully been taken up by the NHS.
  • Why does Johann think we need social solutions rather than medical ones to tackle depression?
  • Hear Johann talk about how a study of Dr Vincent Felitti’s on obesity became to be about childhood trauma and the power of shame.
  • How did Rangan realise kindness and compassion can provide value in his doctor’s surgery?
  • Johann talks about ‘junk values’ and how marketing and advertising in today’s society seems more important to us than social connection.
  • Rangan and Johann talk about how we have lost a lot of our common sense through changes in our modern environment.
  • According to the world health organisation what are the 3 causes of depression?
  • How does the current work culture with extended working hours impact our mental health?
  • Hear Johann and Rangan discuss autonomy and depression and anxiety in workplaces.
'We’ve created a society that is not meeting basic psychological needs for most people.' Share on X

Find out more about Johann:

Website    Facebook   Instagram    Twitter

Johann’s books:

Lost Connections: Why You’re Depressed and How to Find Hope

Chasing the Scream: The Search for the Truth About Addiction

Further learning:

Dr Chatterjee’s resources:


DISCLAIMER: The content in the podcast and on this webpage is not intended to constitute or be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your doctor or other qualified health care provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have heard on the podcast or on my website.

Dr. Rangan Chatterjee MbChB, BSc (Hons), MRCP, MRCGP