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

Make your diet more nutrient-dense

Make your diet more nutrient-dense

Environmental Nutrition By Matthew Kadey, M.S., R.D., Environmental Nutrition Newsletter There is only so much food you

Gluten related symptoms: Celiac disease or gluten sensitivity?

Gluten related symptoms: Celiac disease or gluten sensitivity?

The Medicine Cabinet: Ask the Harvard Experts By Howard LeWine, M.D. Q: I seem to be very

Start treatment now to prevent spring allergy symptoms

Start treatment now to prevent spring allergy symptoms

The Medicine Cabinet: Ask the Harvard Experts By Howard LeWine, M.D. Q: I have spring allergies. Every

Does your doctor’s gender matter?

Does your doctor’s gender matter?

By Robert H. Shmerling, M.D. Harvard Health Blog I've read medical research studies that surprised me. I've

Articles By Category

Family Health

In The Know

CH Lifestyle

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

Categories

Recent Comments

Fund a Cure Night | The Griffith Family Foundation

Fund a Cure Night | The Griffith Family Foundation

Enjoy a great night of baseball at Peoples Natural

VIEW ARTICLE
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

Archives