In the field of psychiatric research the increase in depressive behaviour has been one of the great open questions in the 1900s. In our century generation after generation is suffering from depression in larger numbers and at earlier age than before.
Depression as an illness has also aroused debate within the scientific circles as well as in more popular health medias. Especially clearly depression has become part of the public discussion as the number of treatments has increased and new and diversified treatments have been
introduced. The debate on happiness pills and their effects on making some dissidents more socially acceptable, reminds us of Aldous Huxley and his frightening right-wrong reasoning.
The increase in depressive behaviour, while coinciding with diappearance of millions of jobs in the western societies, has brought out
also a huge socio-medical problem: loss - imaginary or still more often quite real - tends to bring forth depression caused by the unfinished mourning process, or some other significant reason, have resulted in the
fact that depression, much more often than earlier, is the diagnostic reason for incapacity for work. The proportion of the severe depressive disorders in applied and granted sickness benefits has during the last ten years risen almost explosively.
The rapidly increasing problem has brought about several treatises with explanatory note about the subject, vying or complementing each other. Various remedial doctrines have come to the battle-field to comfort the survivors or alleviate their existence, but , as so many suicide projects show, also to explain and to carry away the dead.
Many quite remarkable speeches have been given to uncover the propaganda and misleading information that has been practised in the name of science. Especially significant are those speeches which criticize
the attempts, when someone through media tries to get a leading position in scientific circles with all its implications: glory, control of money flow and career development.
If caustic remark is allowed, this phenomenon is comparable to the Nobel swindle.
The enormous boom of depressive episodes linked with infinite and almost irremediable human suffering has entwined the concept with such
phenomena as listed above: jackals begin to swarm around the carcass and vultures gather on the branches of cacti, ravens on tops of the dead standing pines.
In science magazines there has been a worried dicussion about the various clusters of alternative approaches that have come about around
the unsolved great problems as well as about their semi-scientific or quasi-scientific efforts of explanation and proving.
As to the depression, also the patients or clients have emphatically started asking questions about their rights and appropriateness of their treatments while at the same time the popularity and use of placebo treatments varies in waves, mostly increasing.
An article by Harri Sirola, an author, (Image-magazine V/96) is a rather thorough examination of the official treatment of the depression where the view is that of the object of the treatment and the subject of one's life. But just as well thought-provoking is the collection of articles which deals with the correlation between mental disorders and creative occupations: how usual it is that composers, writers, philosophers and other actors with creative production have, according to the analysis based on their biographies, in one way or another severe mental disorders. On the other hand, quite seldom have they sought for treatment or been under treatment.
As a matter of fact an idea, almost a stereotype has been formed, that there is no, and there cannot be any creative production without strong, inner contradiction which may even reach the pathological level.
As the number of suicides has increased and drugs are being used more than before and, owing to the improving and more extensive diagnostics, more and more secret griefs poured out earlier in chambers and cabinets, bedrooms and workshops will be reported to the medical system.
The starting of treatment and getting diagnosed depends also on the increased capacity of the medical system and the urge to find for their 'isms' the right to exist in the network of conflicting interest and diminishing resources.
Rapidly growing human population and decreasing chances for survival especially in the underdeveloped regions are contributory factors in engedering such clearly defensive feelings and processes where strategies of treatment, research, prevention and rehabilitation are brought into use. A good, though paradoxical example for this is the tendency, within small western welfare states, to introduce emergency and debriefing practices while at the same time in the Balkans, Central Africa or in East-Timor the requisites for treatment and attention are dealing with considerably more concrete problems of survival.
On grounds of the outlooks described above it is rather challenging to
start thinking about studying and treating of rapidly diagnostically increasing mild and moderate depressive episodes and especially channelling resources to these problems.
Situation is not alleviated by that, that the public interest is readily kindled in these kinds of, at least partly paramedical, placebo-type matters, the scientific evidence of which, though it in many cases can be provided but which in global perspective is rather on the level of human interest stories than any survival guide.
The amount of time, energy and mental capacity that for instance in these days is spent on discussing about UFOs or spoon twisting à la Uri Geller, must be compared with that time that is used on search for control measures on Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), post-traumatic stress disorders or premenstrual tension.
Severe mental disorders - schizophrenia and manic-depressive illness - are also in this perspective a matter on its own; their nature is being intensely studied by numerous research workers and teams - maybe even with good results - but general interest that these studies and their results attract, with respect to their significance, is considerably smaller than that of panic disorders, bulimias, Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) or debriefings on the scenes of the accident.
Referring to the above, I want to emphasize that in arctic population there are endlessly such symptoms and disorders but also strenghts and traditions giving pulse to everyday life, the study and occasionaly also the treatment of which is a meaningful and worthwhile job; why not also their prevention.
However, when studying for instance the indicence of alcholism type 2,
one must be careful and cautious both as to the conlusions and recommended treatments.
Originally the arctic community has been, in times of agricultural and nomadic societies, markedly severe and ruthless to all life within it: the whole range of biodiversity was put to trial. In this - from man's point of view - ten milleniums story, those phenomena like SISU - PERSEVERANCE and ADAPTABILITY, can be seen as a result of hundreds of generations' struggle as a part of the harsh nature, and almost always they have life preserving and life supporting elements, seldom destructive or fatal.
Only with the emergence of the modern, post-industrialized information
society with its post-modern culture, can we see signs of how the fine control of this adaptability has failed. The character of these failures can be, either as Linkola sees it, a warning for mankind, or as the holistic medicine sees it, a guiding element behind man's choices.
The guiding of choices means that man should try to understand to find such rhythm into one's life so that he/she, during the Polar night, twi-
light time, would seek for those activities pertaining to the crepuscule, twilight zone. An in autum - at harvest time - man should see that enough supplies and resources would be stored away for the long winter when a lot of babies, begotten in the vernal ecstasy, are born, all in need of staple food and care and when the nature's gifts for man's survival are scarce. And in spring, as nature provides the setting and endows the sex drive, man should understand to fall in love, produce offspring and in summer do the work that at the time of the midnight sun has to be done: like a maniac, round the clock, without any pause and eyes glittering with Lappish madness and feverish search for gold. And this greed one should like to share with others, too.
These kinds of arctic people, mainly the Finns, deserve to toughen themselves up so that the mediterranean criticism of their eight seasons' cycle would not be taken too seriously. The understanding of these adap-
tations and these circumstances does not live neither at the digs of Greenpeace activists, sponsored by German wood industry, nor in the traditions and actions of Sardininian drugs mafia or Hungarian stock-jobber.
Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a milder depressive episode, which can occasionally reach the level of moderate depressive episode, the incidence of which, according to the Icelandic researches, have higher rates in the latitude of New York than on Iceland which is situated in the same latitude as Oulu. On the other hand, the Norwegians are claiming that the incidence of dark-depression would rather be a problem of Arctic north than that of Central Europe.
A treatise by Mr. Saarijärvi will be published during the next few months; we shall wait for the results with interest.