The US Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) recommends screening for depression in adults. What does this mean for you? The next time you have a doctor's appointment, you may be asked questions about your mental health.
We have known for years that depression is a big problem. According to the National Institutes of Mental Health, major depressive disorder is the leading cause of disability in the US. In a given year, millions of Americans will be diagnosed with a mood disorder (major depressive, dysthymic, or bipolar disorder).
A number of people with the disorder do not even know they have it. Depression is often disguised by other problems. And, though the stigma tied to the disorder is easing, many who are affected still go undetected or untreated.
The USPSTF urges primary care doctors to screen all adult patients for signs of depression and give them appropriate treatment and follow up care.
According to USPSTF, the following two questions are a good place to start:
If your answer is “yes” to either question, contact your primary care doctor for an evaluation. Your doctor may advise completing a more in-depth questionnaire or having a thorough check-up.
Research suggests depression comes from an imbalance of certain brain hormones. The disorder is more common in people who inherit a tendency for depression or those who are exposed to certain environmental triggers.
If you have symptoms of depression that interfere with your daily routine, contact your doctor. A physical exam and psychological evaluation will be done to determine the cause.
Depression is treatable. Research has shown that antidepressant drugs and counseling—alone or in combination—are effective in combating the disorder. However, the combination of talk-therapy and drug therapy may be more effective than either alone. Alternative treatments, such as St. John's wort, are also being studied. And adjusting your lifestyle to include more exercise and social activities may help, as well.
You are encouraged to talk to your doctor if you have concerns about your mental health. If you have thoughts of death or suicide, call for emergency medical services right away. With better screening and medical care, the future looks brighter for adults with depression.
American Psychiatric Association
National Institute of Mental Health
Canadian Mental Health Association
Canadian Psychiatric Association
Depression. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed. Updated May 21, 2014. Accessed July 8, 2014.
Diagnosis and management of depression. American Family Physician. 2000.
New recommendations for depression screening. Journal Watch website. Available at: http://general-medicine.jwatch.org/cgi/content/full/2002/604/1. Published May 2002. Accessed July 8, 2014.
Screening for depression in adult. U.S. Preventive Services Task Force website. Available at: http://www.uspreventiveservicestaskforce.org/uspstf/uspsaddepr.htm. Published December 2009. Accessed July 8, 2014.
The numbers count: Mental disorders in America. National Institutes of Public Health website. Available at: http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/the-numbers-count-mental-disorders-in-america/index.shtml. Updated June 2008. Accessed July 8, 2014.
US Preventive Services Task Force now finds sufficient evidence to recommend screening adults for depression [press release]. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. May 20, 2002.
US Preventive Services Task Force. Screening for depression in adults: Summary of the evidence. Ann Int Med. 2002;136:765-776.
US Preventive Services Task Force. Screening for depression: Recommendations and rationale. Ann Int Med. 2002;136:760-764.
Last reviewed July 2014 by Michael Woods, MD
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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