Panel advises depression screening for all adults
The guidelines also single out pregnant women and newmoms.
All American adults should be screened for depression as part of their normal health- care routine, an influential panel recommended on Tuesday. The U. S. Preventive Services Task Force also singled out maternal mental illness for the first time by suggesting that women be screened during pregnancy and after childbirth.
The new guidelines, updated for the first time since 2009 and published in the journal JAMA, are a recognition of the devastating toll mental illness is taking around the world. Researchers have noted a surge in diagnoses in recent years related to the stress of modern life and fears of terrorism, violence and poverty. The World Health Organization recently predicted mental illness would jump from the fifth leading cause of death and disability to second place by 2020.
The task force, an independent body appointed by the Department of Health and Human Services, noted that major depressive disorder is associated with suicide and impaired ability to manage other health issues. An estimated $ 22.8 billion was spent on depression treatment in 2009, it said, and lost productivity cost an additional estimated $ 23 billion in 2011.
“Depression has amajor effect on quality of life for the patient and affects family members, especially children,” the group noted in its report.
Screening for depression typically involves starting with a series of questions about individuals’ feelings about their lives. Examples include asking them the extent to which these types of statements are true: “I can laugh and see the funny side of things,” “I feel as if I am slowed down,” or “I look forward with enjoyment to things.”
If these initial screening tests show elevated risk for depression, providers are asked to conduct additional assessments to look for other issues such as anxiety panic attacks, substance abuse or other medical conditions.
The report recommends screening each adult at least once, but it notes that the “optimal frequency of such screening has not been established.”