Monday, March 30, 2009

Depression Tests Urged for Teenagers

An influential government-appointed medical panel is urging doctors to perform routine screening on all American teenagers for depression, a step that acknowledges that nearly two million teenagers are affected by this debilitating condition.

Most are undiagnosed and untreated, said the panel, the United States Preventive Services Task Force, which sets guidelines for doctors on a host of health issues.

The task force recommendations appear in the April issue of the journal Pediatrics. And they go further than the American Academy of Pediatrics’ own guidance for screening of teenage depression.

An estimated 6 percent of American teenagers are clinically depressed. Evidence shows that detailed but simple questionnaires can accurately diagnose depression in primary-care settings like a pediatrician’s office.

The task force said that when followed by treatment, including psychotherapy, screening can help improve symptoms and help children cope. Because depression can lead to persistent sadness, social isolation, school problems and even suicide, screening to treat it early is crucial, the panel said.


No comments: