Depression in its various forms is a very common illness. Mild depression affects about 10–15% of adults in Finland, whereas about 5% suffer from severe depression.
Symptoms of depression
In a state of depression, the person’s mood is low or their interest towards other people and their surroundings has clearly and consistently decreased over the course of two weeks or longer. The illness also includes various symptoms occurring at the same time, such as:
- inability to feel pleasure
- insomnia or increased need for sleep
- lack of strength and fatigue on an almost daily basis
- slow or agitated movements and mental processes
- feelings of worthlessness, inferiority and guilt
- difficulty thinking, concentrating or making decisions
- mental images related to death or suicidal thoughts
- loss or appetite and losing weight or increased appetite and gaining weight
- increased use of alcohol or other intoxicants
- loss of libido
The onset of depression can be affected by a biological predisposition, innate temperament and a personality moulded by experiences during the person’s development. Depression often also involves a disruption in brain activity.
Depression can be triggered by events in one’s life, disappointments, losses or unprocessed trauma. Sometimes, there are no clear reasons for depression.
Sometimes, the symptoms develop slowly, making them difficult to notice on your own. While listening to the observations of your loved ones is often a good idea, the actual diagnosis should be made by a doctor. Depression self-assessment quizzes on the internet can offer a general assessment of your symptoms.
Depression can be divided into mild, moderate, severe and psychotic levels based on its severity. Mild forms of depression may only have a small impact on the person’s social life or work, whereas severe forms may considerably impair their functional capacity.
Psychological conversational therapy or the combination of psychotherapy and possible pharmaceutical treatment have been found to be the most effective means of treating depression. In the acute stage, psychotherapy and sick leave, with or without medication, can also be effective. Medication alone without conversational therapy is not an effective or a recommended form of treatment in the long term.
In the early stages of the illness, the treatment can be planned by a general practitioner, but in prolonged, more severe or recurring depression, we recommend an appointment with a psychiatrist.
Regular exercise has been found to be an effective form of treatment, at least in mild levels of depression. Online therapy provided with a doctor’s referral may also prove suitable for treating mild and moderate depression.