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.
- The Anxiety and Depression Association of America offers lots of facts about depression and anxiety and their different forms, as well as advice on finding help, living with mood disorders, and taking action on a larger scale.
- 7 Ways to Recognize Depression in 20-Somethings
- 7 Ways Depression Differs in Men and Women
- This graphic essay by Deanna Zandt that takes on the stigma around medications for mental health.
- Worth More Than Many Sparrows is a blog that attempts to de-stigmatize mental illness.
- The Bloggess not only runs a blog where she talks openly (and often hilariously) about mental illness, but she also has two popular books out.
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.