College clinics don't depression screen

Jan. 10, 2011 at 5:11 PM

CHICAGO, Jan. 10 (UPI) -- Up to 25 percent of U.S. college students who visit a university health center for routine care such as a sore throat are depressed, researchers say.

Michael Fleming of the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago says these depressed students are not screened for depression even though about 2 percent to 3 percent of these depressed students have had suicidal thoughts or are considering suicide.

"Depression screening is easy to do, we know it works, and it can save lives," Fleming says in a statement. "It should be done for every student who walks into a health center. These kids might drop out of school because they are so sad or hurt or kill themselves by drinking too much or taking drugs."

Prior depression studies surveyed general college samples or students in counseling center, but this study polled campus health clinic users and found clinic users had nearly twice as high depression rates compared to the general student population.

Currently, if a student comes to a campus health center and complains about depression, he or she is referred to a counseling center, Fleming says.

"But students don't necessarily get there unless they are pretty depressed," Fleming says. "If we screen, we can try to find every student that is depressed."

The findings are published in the American Journal of Orthopsychiatry.

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