September 19, 2019
1 min read

Number of depression diagnoses increasing among Finnish youth

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Researchers reported that more young people in Finland born between 1994-2000 received a depression diagnosis in specialized services than the cohort born between 1987-1993, according to data published in Nordic Journal of Psychiatry.

"The results can most probably be explained by an increase in service use. An increasing number of depressed adolescents get help at an early stage which is positive. The increase in service use can reflect better identification of depression and a more positive attitude to mental health,” Svetlana Filatova, PhD, from University of Turku’s Research Centre for Child Psychiatry in Finland, said in a press release.

In their national register-based study, Filatova and colleagues examined the time trends of the age-specific and gender-specific incidence and cumulative incidence of diagnosed depression among more than one million individuals aged 5-25 years born in Finland. Researchers divided participants into three cohorts based on birth year: 1987-1993, 1994-2000 and 2001-2007.

Analysis revealed that 5.5% of males and 10.4% of females were diagnosed with depression in specialized services by age 25 years. By age 15 years, the cumulative incidence of depression in the 1994-2000 cohort was higher than the 1987-1993 cohort (1.6% [95% CI, 1.61.7] vs. 1% [95% CI, 1.11.2]) among males andamong females (2.9% [95% CI, 2.83] vs. 1.8% [95% CI, 1.81.9]).

In addition, when analyzing the yearly incidence of depression, the investigators found that the incidence increased steadily over the age span 8-20 years then remained stable among males but increased rapidly among females at age 11-16 years before decreasing.

Filatova and colleagues suggested that environmental changes among young people in more recent years may have impacted changes in depressive symptoms, increased help-seeking patterns and the incidence of diagnosed depression, like increased peer victimization, less sleep time, increased occurrence of parental depression and increasing social inequalities.

“The rapid increase in children and adolescents diagnosed with depression poses a challenge for specialized mental health services, which needs to provide evidence-based treatment for a growing patient population,” the researchers concluded. – by Savannah Demko

Disclosure: The authors report no relevant financial disclosures.