Doctors Propose Depression Screening Plan for Teens

Self-Reporting Questionnaire May Help Diagnose Depressed Teens 


Only about 50 percent of adolescents with depression get diagnosed before reaching adulthood. According to a report by NPR, as many as two of three depressed teens don’t get the care that could help them.

To address this divide, the American Academy of Pediatrics has issued updated guidelines this week that call for universal screening for depression.

“What we’re endorsing is that everyone, 12 and up, be screened at least once a year,” says Dr. Rachel Zuckerbrot, a board-certified child and adolescent psychiatrist. The screening, she says, could be done during a well-visit, a sports physical, or during another office visit.

Zuckerbrot helped write the guidelines, which have been in development for a while. The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force also recommends depression screening, and many pediatricians have already woven the screenings into their practices. 

“Teenagers are often more honest when they’re not looking somebody in the face who’s asking questions,” about their emotional health Zuckerbrot says. So, most pediatricians use a questionnaire that teens fill out themselves, either on an electronic device or on paper.

The new recommendations also call for families with a depressed teen to develop a safety plan to restrict the young person’s access to lethal means of harm. Suicide is a leading cause of death for children aged 10 to 17, and adolescent suicide risk is strongly associated with firearm availability.

Article Source: NPR
Image Source: Unsplash