Depression Screenings: Recommended for All Adults


This week, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF)* officially recommended that the general adult population, including pregnant and postpartum women, should be screened for depression. The big headlines have mainly focused on the “pregnant and postpartum” part of that recommendation, but all adults could benefit from depression screenings

This tunnel vision is somewhat understandable. In 2009, the USPSTF released a similar recommendation, although at the time there was not enough evidence on whether or not depression screening would benefit pregnant and/or postpartum reason. Obviously, the news likes to focus on what’s new–I get that. However, I do think that a disservice is being done by not reminding the public that they too, mother or not, man or woman, should have a depression screening. By highlighting the updated portion recommendation only, the media minimizes the importance of USPSTF’s recommendation.

After all, depression affects over 6% of Americans over the age of 18 every year, with 32 being the median age of onset, with women experiencing depression at roughly twice the rate of men. According to the WHO, major depressive disorder is the leading cause of disability for people ages 15 to 44.

Screening for depression could become a part of a standard physical. Or we could create a culture in people see a psychologist or psychiatrist every couple of years–with health insurance covering it. Such changes could help relieve the personal and economic burdens of depression by ensuring that people get treatment as soon as possible.

While I am not advocating self-diagnosis, I do want to share a few resources that I thought people might find interesting/helpful.

What resources would you recommend? And how often do you think is “often enough” for depression screenings? Should screenings be regularly performed for other mood disorders, such as anxiety? Comment here or talk to me on Twitter, @rsuppok.

*This is the “they” who are always telling you to get a mammogram or quit smoking.

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