Archive for Monday, March 30, 2009

Depression screening for teens advised

March 30, 2009


— An influential government-appointed medical panel is urging doctors to routinely screen all American teens for depression — a bold step that acknowledges that nearly 2 million teens are affected by this debilitating condition.

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

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

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

The task force said that when followed by treatment, including psychotherapy, screening can help improve symptoms and help kids 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.

The task force is an independent panel of experts convened by the federal government to establish guidelines for treatment in primary-care. Its new guidance goes beyond the pediatrics academy, which advises pediatricians to ask teen patients questions about depression. Other doctor groups advise screening only high-risk youngsters.

Because depression is so common, “you will miss a lot if you only screen high-risk groups,” said Dr. Ned Calonge, task force chair and chief medical officer for Colorado’s Department of Public Health and Environment.

The group recommends research-tested screening tests even for kids without symptoms. It cited two questionnaires that focus on depression tip-offs, such as mood, anxiety, appetite and substance abuse.

Calonge stressed that the panel does not want its advice to lead to drug treatment alone, particularly antidepressants that have been linked with increased risks for suicidal thoughts. Routine testing should only occur if psychotherapy is also readily available, the panel said. Calonge said annual screening likely would be enough.

While primary care doctors have full plates just dealing with physical ailments, many recognize the importance of providing mental health services — and many already do, said Dr. Ted Epperly, president of the American Academy of Family Physicians.

It isn’t always as time-consuming as it might seem; some screening questionnaires can be filled out by patients in the waiting room, Epperly said. Doctors can easily spot any red flags.


mtomany6 8 years, 8 months ago

The article is a Press Release from Columbia U's TeenScreen program, written by a PR company that's bought and paid for by TeenScreen. They have a vested interest in screening. Their own studies reveal high false-positive rates w/screening (labelling children who are not really depressed).

"[n]early 2 million teens affected by this debilitating condition"? What did we do for the last hundreds of years that this is just now an "epidemic"? How is it that until the last 10 years this wasn't even recognized? How did BILLIONS of teens throughout history ever survive without all this screening, diagnosing and treatment? I highly doubt that all those teens are suffering from a disorder of their brain! Maybe those vested interests are what has changed to bring about this "epidemic".

Psychiatrists surveyed said that treatment for 9 out of 10 children IS drugging. Studies show a regular pediatrician is MORE likely to prescribe a drug than therapy.

WHY is Big Government being allowed to put their noses into my families health? Since when do they know BETTER than me what is best for my child? Who elected them to be the parent?

Make no mistake about it - here's the exact form parents DON'T see: If the student’s screening indicated a problem; Did you notify parents? Yes No Provide a reference? Yes No Did parents agree to follow up? Yes No If Yes, did they do so in a timely and appropriate manner? Yes No If No, did you notify DHS (child services)? Yes No

Our rights as parents are being eroded under the guise of "help". Our tax dollars are paying for this invasion. Our Medicaid's are going broke over the costs. Do the research and see for yourself!

Look at individual state records and find the costs of the drugs and amounts of money dumped into screening. See what these escalating costs escalating costs are doing to state's budgets. Find the vested interests behind all this screening. All the documented information is on the internet. WHO BENEFITS? Follow the money!

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