Task force recommends all adults be screened for depression

All pregnant and postpartum women are included in the recommendations for screening for the first time based on studies conducted since the previous guidelines were issued in 2009.
By Stephen Feller  |  Jan. 26, 2016 at 4:54 PM
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ROCKVILLE, Md., Jan. 26 (UPI) -- All adults should be screened for depression, including pregnant and postpartum women, said the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force in an expansion of recommendations for doctors.

The increased screenings are an expansion of USPSTF's 2009 recommendations, which did not include pregnant or postpartum women, and also only suggested screenings in medical facilities that could provide services.

"Depression is a major source of disability, so we want to be sure to take every opportunity to get people the help they need," John Snook, executive director of the Treatment Advocacy Center, told USA Today.

USPSTF said in the recommendation, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, that all adults older than age 18 should be screened, noting members of nearly every part of the adult population has factors associated with an increased risk of depression for some people.

Among groups of people especially at risk are people with chronic illnesses and a family history for psychiatric disorders, as well as women, young and middle-aged adults, and nonwhite people -- all of whom have higher rates of depression. Older adults' risk for depression includes disability and poor health status, USPSTF said.

Risk factors for pregnant and postpartum women include poor self-esteem, child-care stress, prenatal anxiety, life stress, and history of depression, among others.

The recommendations do not include hard time frames or suggestions for frequency, which doctors say should be based on patients -- either individual condition or how often they see a doctor -- in order to properly monitor them because there is no assumed timeframe for depression to take hold.

"Although major depressive disorder is one of the world's great public health problems, the morbidity and increased mortality associated with this common illness can be attenuated by the large number of effective treatments that are now widely available," Dr. Michael Thase wrote in an editorial published with the guidelines in the Journal of the American Medical Assocation. "It is therefore important to ensure that efficient methods for population screening are in place and directly linked to health care systems so depressed patients receive appropriate treatment."

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