The number of cases of depression and chronic anxiety has increased exponentially in recent decades, especially in the most industrialised countries of the world, such as the United States, France, Germany, and England. During the 1990s, Prozac and other psychotropic drugs were widely prescribed, and became the most common method of clinical treatment, even among adolescents.
To this day, many people believe that these disorders are inherent to mental health, that they stem solely from the brain, and that they are an individual problem, which can be solved by addressing the way in which the brain balances chemicals and hormones, such as serotonin. Johann Hari, however, maintains that this is not in fact the case. His research and personal experiences have led him to completely rethink his stance, and he now focuses on identifying the deep-seated reasons for the most widespread preconceptions on the issue.
According to the author, the causes of these disorders stem from the way today’s society has disconnected people from what is most valuable in life, for example, the feeling of having a purpose and belonging to a community. Although the use of antidepressants and various kinds of psychoactive drugs is steadily rising, their effectiveness seems to be limited to a few extreme cases. In short, all evidence suggests that we must recognise the need for a radical change in the way we approach the issue, but there is still a long way to go.
Johann Hari applies his own analysis combined with internationally recognised scientific research on psycho-social issues, Johann Hari lays the foundation for finding new insights into the problem of depression and anxiety, identifying nine main causes and seven possible solutions. As with other symptoms, depression and anxiety are a natural physical response: they are messages, and we just have to be able to decipher what they are trying to tell us, and recognise the importance of the warning.