Updated guidelines from the American Academy of Pediatrics call for all adolescents to go through yearly depression screening.
Depression Screening For Kids 12 To 21 Years Old
The AAP, which represents 66,000 pediatricians, recommended depression screening to all kids between 12 and 21 years old, citing research that show only about 50 percent of adolescents with depression get officially diagnosed before they become adults. As many as two in three depressed teens neither get the care that can help them.
The guidelines are intended to assist primary care clinicians to identify and help adolescents with depression.
"Guidelines were updated for youth aged 10 to 21 years and correspond to initial phases of adolescent depression management in PC, including the identification of at-risk youth, assessment and diagnosis, and initial management," the guidelines read.
When And Where Screening Could Be Done
Pediatricians are encouraged to talk to their patients alone. Rachel Zuckerbrot, from Columbia University, who helped write the guidelines, said that the screening could be done during visits to the doctor or a sports' physical.
She said that teens are often most honest when they do not look in the face of the person asking questions about their emotional health so they could fill out self-reported questionnaire themselves.
"It's an opportunity for the adolescent to answer questions about themselves privately," she said.
Families Encouraged To Help
The new recommendations also call for families with depressed teens to come up with a safety plans to restrict these kids' access to lethal means of harm. Suicide is a leading cause of death for children between 10 and 17 years old, and the risk is strongly linked to the availability of firearm.
Pediatricians are also urged to spend time with parents to identify risk factors and the potential symptoms.
20 Percent Of Adolescents Have Depression
CBS News medical contributor Tara Narula said that 20 percent of adolescents have a history of depressions, and half of these go undiagnosed. Of those who get diagnosed, only about half receive the appropriate treatment.
Narula said that pediatricians need to be trained so they can help identify signs of depression. Undiagnosed depression may lead to social problems, substance abuse, and self harm.
Link Between Depression And Smartphone Use
Studies suggest a potential link between depression in teens and the prevalence of mobile devices. A new study have suggested that social media, internet browsing, and gaming are linked to increase in depressive symptoms in young people.