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Expert Panel Recommends Adding Depression Screening For US Adults

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The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force published a draft recommendation on Tuesday, July 28 pertaining to the suggested modifications in depression screening. After initial review, the Task Force has recommended the inclusion of depression screening in the primary care setting for adults or those aged 18 years old and above in the US, including pregnant and postpartum women. The said recommendations should be equipped with sufficient and appropriate systems to guarantee that diagnostic processes, accurate treatment and adequate follow-up checks are well achieved. The recommendation has been given a grade B rating.

During the review of the recommendation, the Task Force was able to collate evidences that show the clinical improvement of individuals, who were identified to have depression during screenings and were subjected for treatments such as psychotherapy and antidepressant drugs.

"Screening for and identifying depression is an important part of wellness and health," says Linda Baumann, Ph.D., R.N., A.P.R.N., a member of the Task Force.

The Task Force has created a portal in their website where the public can comment on the said draft recommendation and recommendation review. The public may leave their opinions and views regarding the proposed screenings until Aug. 24, 2015. The comments will be read and reviewed by the members of the Task Force before they release their final recommendation and evidence review.

Depression is a rampant condition in the primary care setting and is one of the most common disorders that can hinder adults from performing their duties well. Depression affects the quality of life of patients and is most often associated with increased risk of suicide and other health problems. The effects of depression in pregnant and postpartum women should be monitored closely as it can manifest in both the mother and the child.

"Depression is not only common, it is one of the leading causes of disability in the United States," says [pdf] Kirsten Bibbins-Domingo, Ph.D., M.D., M.A.S, the Task Force Vice-Chair. Including depression screenings in primary care may help to detect the condition and provide necessary treatments, she adds. Tools and measures for the screening of depression have already been studied, which is a positive thing.

In 2009, the Task Force has recommended selective screening for depression, only if the medical doctor thinks it is applicable to the patient or if it is desired by the patient in settings where it is not readily available.

Photo: Yuliya Libkina | Flickr

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