Chicago Health | Homepage
New depression screening guidelines outline very helpful, achievable goals

New depression screening guidelines outline very helpful, achievable goals

By Michael Craig Miller, M.D.

Harvard Health Blog

Every once in a while, a simple idea comes along that has the potential to bring enormous health benefits. Screening for depression is one of them. It is a low-cost, high-impact intervention that should be a regular part of primary care medicine.

This idea is not new, but it has gotten another helpful boost — and was in the news recently– because the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) released updated recommendations reinforcing this message.

Depression is common and potentially disabling. Yet, despite decades of research and publicity about the problem, depression often goes unnoticed. Unnecessary suffering can be prevented if the task force recommendations are followed:

–They encourage primary care practices to have systems to detect depression: Screening can be done with a simple questionnaire.

–If a person is diagnosed with depression, treatment can be offered: psychotherapy, medication or a combination of the two.

–After initiating treatment, provide follow up: A phone call to the person and/or return visits to the primary care provider.

Screening can be as simple as a two-item questionnaire. The Patient Health Questionnaire-2 (PHQ-2) asks,

Over a 2-week period, have you been bothered by (1) little interest or pleasure in doing things; or (2) feeling down, depressed or hopeless?

Answering yes to either item means the problem should be evaluated more fully. The primary care provider may make a referral to a mental health provider, but there is enormous value when initial evaluation and treatment can begin in the primary care setting.

The task force focused special attention this time on women who are pregnant or who have recently given birth to a child. This is quite important because mood problems are surprisingly common during these periods. A majority of women experience transient changes in mood, but up to 15 percent of new mothers may experience significant depression during pregnancy or after the baby is born.

Anyone who is suffering should not debate what it means to have a “significant” mood problem. If you’ve gotten to the point of wondering about it, that’s the time to speak up, get support, and consider helpful options.

What I find heartening about the current report is its emphasis on matter-of-fact, achievable goals. Identification of mood problems and better access to support and treatment in primary care practices can significantly improve outcomes for both mothers and children.

You can find more details at the USPSTF website (www.uspreventiveservicestaskforce.org), where you can read the full recommendations or browse a complete list of information for consumers.

(Michael Craig Miller, M.D., is a senior editor in Mental Health Publishing at Harvard Health Publications.)

(C) 2016. PRESIDENT AND FELLOWS OF HARVARD COLLGE. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. DISTRIBUTED BY TRIBUNE CONTENT AGENCY, LLC.

Similar Articles

OCD?

OCD?

Misconceptions abound of a debilitating disorder By Lorna Collier Diana, 18, is a North Carolina high school senior

Antibiotics can be an option rather than surgery for simple appendicitis

Antibiotics can be an option rather than surgery for simple appendicitis

The Medicine Cabinet-Ask the Harvard Expert  By Howard LeWine, M.D. Q: A friend recently was diagnosed with

How to improve your cholesterol levels

How to improve your cholesterol levels

By Joyce Hendley If one-third of Americans have unhealthy cholesterol levels, why did the U.S. recently

Five things parents should know about stomachaches

Five things parents should know about stomachaches

By Cleveland Clinic's Children's Health Team How can you tell if it's a regular tummy ache

Quick tips for gluten-free eating

Quick tips for gluten-free eating

By EatingWell Going gluten-free can feel difficult -- especially at first -- but it doesn't have

Articles By Category

Family Health

In The Know

CH Lifestyle

March 2017
Sunday Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday
February 26, 2017 February 27, 2017 February 28, 2017 March 1, 2017 March 2, 2017 March 3, 2017 March 4, 2017
March 5, 2017 March 6, 2017 March 7, 2017 March 8, 2017 March 9, 2017 March 10, 2017 March 11, 2017
March 12, 2017 March 13, 2017 March 14, 2017 March 15, 2017 March 16, 2017 March 17, 2017 March 18, 2017
March 19, 2017 March 20, 2017 March 21, 2017 March 22, 2017 March 23, 2017 March 24, 2017 March 25, 2017
March 26, 2017 March 27, 2017 March 28, 2017 March 29, 2017 March 30, 2017 March 31, 2017 April 1, 2017

Categories

Recent Comments

Swing for the fences in the fight to Sideline Pancreatic Cancer

Swing for the fences in the fight to Sideline Pancreatic Cancer

Enjoy a great night of baseball at Peoples Natural

VIEW ARTICLE
Cost to give birth 1943 - Page 3 - Defending The Truth Political Forum

Cost to give birth 1943 - Page 3 - Defending The Truth Political Forum

A Hazy Shade of Healthcare: What does tort reform

VIEW ARTICLE

Archives