Being a teen is hard. But could your teen actually be depressed? Some are suggesting yearly depression screenings for teens to hopefully help them get through those tough times.

[From the NY Times]

CHICAGO (AP) – An influential government-appointed medical panel is urging doctors to perform routine screening on all American teenagers for depression, a step that acknowledges that nearly two million teenagers are affected by this debilitating condition.

Most are undiagnosed and untreated, said the panel, the United States Preventive Services Task Force, which sets guidelines for doctors on a host of health issues.

The task force recommendations appear in the April issue of the journal Pediatrics. And they go further than the American Academy of Pediatrics’ own guidance for screening of teenage depression.

An estimated 6 percent of American teenagers are clinically depressed. Evidence shows that detailed but simple questionnaires can accurately diagnose depression in primary-care settings like a pediatrician’s office.

The task force said that when followed by treatment, including psychotherapy, screening can help improve symptoms and help children cope. Because depression can lead to persistent sadness, social isolation, school problems and even suicide, screening to treat it early is crucial, the panel said.

The task force is an independent panel of experts convened by the federal government to establish guidelines for treatment in primary care. Its new guidance goes beyond the pediatrics academy, which advises pediatricians to ask teenage patients questions about depression. Other doctor groups advise screening only high-risk youngsters.

Because depression is so common, “you will miss a lot if you only screen high-risk groups,” said Dr. Ned Calonge, task force chairman and chief medical officer for the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.

The group recommends research-tested screening even for children without symptoms. It cited two questionnaires that focus on depression tip-offs, like mood, anxiety, appetite and substance abuse.

To read the rest of the article, click here.

Maybe it’s just PMS!

But wait – not so fast – some say depression is GOOD for you!

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